Direct the Task Force, with input from U.S. industry and other stakeholders, to identify and develop, within six months, a list of the types of information and operational standards needed for an effective seafood traceability program to combat seafood fraud and IUU seafood in U.S. commerce.
Direct the Task Force to establish, within 18 months, the first phase of a risk-based traceability program to track seafood from point of harvest to entry into U.S. commerce.
It is in the national interest to prevent the entry of illegal goods, including illegally harvested or produced seafood, into U.S. commerce. Creating an integrated program that better facilitates data collection, sharing, and analysis among relevant regulators and enforcement authorities would be a significant step forward in addressing IUU fishing and seafood fraud. The federal government will work with states, industry, and other stakeholders to develop and implement this program, consistent with U.S. international legal obligations, including U.S, obligations under the World Trade Organization Agreement.
First, the federal government will need to define the types of information to be collected on seafood sold in the United States and the operational standards to be applied to the collection, retention, and transmission of such information, such as electronic collection wherever possible. This program should be developed in a way that permits all authorized agencies to enter, analyze, use, and verify the data while still protecting information consistent with statutory authorities. NOAA and its fishery management partners already collect much of this information for many species for use in domestic fisheries management. Also, at the border the FDA collects information on the identity of imported seafood products, harvested or farmed. CBP is able to utilize its authorities at the border to enforce other U.S. agency requirements for imported seafood products, while ICE has the authority to investigate cross-border violations. It will be critical to this effort to knit together the information collected by these agencies and others and leverage their respective authorities, while ensuring that other federal agencies have access to that information and identifying the domestic and international gaps in information.
The program will initially be applied to seafood products of particular concern because the species at issue are subject to significant seafood fraud or because they are at significant risk of being caught by IUU fishing (referred to in this recommendation as “at risk” species). The federal government will first need to outline the criteria and principles to determine which species currently face these risks, as well as to understand whether additional data need to be collected for these species, and develop a strategy to collect those data. Once the steps outlined on pages 37-39 have been implemented, the NOC Committee will evaluate the program’s development and use lessons learned to outline next steps required for eventually expanding the program to other seafood entering U.S. commerce. The NOC Committee will again evaluate progress in implementing the program and the steps outlined in the previous report after one full year of program implementation. As set forth in the Federal Register notice that relayed the Task Force’s recommendations to the President, it is the goal of the U.S. government “to eventually expand the program to all seafood at first point of sale or import.” The process for expansion will account for, among other factors, consideration of authorities needed, stakeholder input, and the cost-effectiveness of program expansion. The NOC Committee will also consider how certain types of information within the traceability system (e.g., species, geographic origin, means of production (such as wild-caught versus aquaculture), and gear type) could be made available to the consumer.
The NOC Committee intends to take steps to develop this program in six key areas: 1) developing types of information/operational standards related to data collection; 2) determining species currently “at risk” to IUU fishing and seafood fraud, 3) analyzing what data are collected and the gaps in data; 4) sharing information within the federal government and with consumers, as allowable by law; 5) establishing a trusted trader program; and 6) evaluating and expanding the overall program. As noted above, implementing these steps will require engagement from several members of the NOC Committee but coordinated implementation of authorities held by CBP, NOAA, and FDA will be especially critical. Some steps will be concurrent and some will need to be sequential. The notes after each heading indicate where in the process each step is expected to be implemented.