Recommendation 10: enforcement - Species Name and Code

Direct the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security, with input from the Attorney General, to standardize and clarify rules on identifying the species, common name, and origin of seafood. Direct the Secretaries of Commerce and Homeland Security and the U.S. Trade Representative to work with the International Trade Commission to adjust U.S. tariff codes to enhance identification in trade of species subject to IUU fishing or seafood fraud accordingly. The agencies should aim to publish these revised rules and adjusted codes not later than one year after the adoption of this recommendation.

Rationale

A wide variety of finfish and shellfish products are consumed by the American public, amounting to about 15 pounds per capita annually, with the majority imported. Whether imported or domestically produced, seafood products should not be marketed to consumers in a way that is false or misleading. For classification of imports, codes and descriptions are assigned to seafood products under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) of the United States which is maintained by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). In addition, the FDA maintains a list of product codes to describe seafood commodities entered into U.S. commerce. The FDA product codes refer to fish name, packaging, and type of processing. Deliberate misrepresentation of the species in trade can defraud consumers and allow the infiltration of the products of IUU fishing into the supply chain. Increasing the specificity of HTS codes, and names could help address issues of proper identification of seafood products in trade. Such specificity will help enforcement officials focus limited resources on shipments more likely to contain IUU seafood as well as help to protect against seafood fraud.

Implementation Steps

Lead Agencies: NOAA, DHS/CBP, and FDA

Other agencies involved: USTR, USFWS, DOJ, USDA and ITC

By April 2015, the lead agencies will convene an interagency technical working group for the purpose of implementing this recommendation.
  • By August 2015, the Working Group will catalogue the existing rules on identifying the species, name, and origin of seafood entering into commerce in the United States and determine where standardization or clarification of these rules would help to address problems of IUU fishing and seafood fraud. For those areas where the Working Group determines standardization or clarification of the rules is appropriate, the Working Group will prepare recommendations on how those rules should be standardized or clarified. These recommendations will include, where appropriate, which codes should be adjusted and at what level adjustments are needed, and whether common, market, and/or scientific names should be utilized. Such recommendations will be referred to the ITC and FDA as appropriate.
  • By August 2015, the Working Group will also consider how the current list of U.S. tariff codes for seafood can be adjusted, including by increasing product specificity, to facilitate identification of species susceptible to IUU fishing or seafood fraud, in support of efforts to keep such products out of U.S. commerce. The Working Group will develop recommendations as to what adjustments should be made and will share them with ITC and FDA and integrate them into the strategy developed pursuant to Recommendation 8.
  • By December 2015, FDA and other relevant agencies shall standardize and clarify rules on identifying the species, common name, and origin of seafood and adjust U.S. tariff codes to enhance identification in trade of species subject to IUU fishing or seafood fraud based on the recommendations of the Working Group, including with the publication of proposed revisions to any rules by March 2016.

A typical local seafood market. Photo Credit: NOAA FIsheries