NOC COMMITTEE

As a global leader in sustainable seafood and importer of up to 90 of seafood for domestic consumption, it is in the interest of the United States to promote and support sustainable fishing practices while at the same time combating and preventing illegally harvested or fraudulently marketed fish from entering the global stream of commerce. 

The National Ocean Council’s Committee on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud (NOC Committee) was established to take the place of a 2014 Presidential Task Force on Combating IUU Fishing and Seafood Fraud, and oversee implementation of the Task Force Action Plan released on March 15, 2015. Established in April 2015, the NOC Committee is comprised of the same 14 federal agency-members as the Task Force and continues to be co-chaired by NOAA and the Department of State. Following its establishment, the NOC Committee immediately formed federal working groups around each Recommendation detailed in the Action Plan. This web-portal is designed to provide public access to the updates, activities and engagements being conducted to implement the Action Plan. 

HISTORY TIMELINE

On June 17, 2014, the White House released a Presidential Memorandum for “Establishing a Comprehensive Framework to Combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud.” Among other actions the Memorandum established a Presidential Task Force, co-chaired by the Departments of State and Commerce and made up of a broad range of other federal agencies, 14 in total. 

MISSION OF THE TASK FORCE: 

The Task Force was directed to report to the President within 180 days with “recommendations for the implementation of a comprehensive framework of integrated programs to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud that emphasizes areas of greatest need.” Through an extensive public comment and engagement process, the Task Force developed a series of 15 recommendations, which were released on December 18, 2014, for further public comment. Based on this final round of public comments, on March 15, 2015, the Task Force released its Action Plan for implementing the recommendations. This plan articulates the aggressive steps that federal agencies will take both domestically and internationally to implement the recommendations the Task Force made in December 2014. Learn more about the action plan here

PUBLIC COMMENT AND ENGAGEMENT 2014:

In August 2014, the Task Force initiated a public engagement process aimed at gaining broad input and expertise from key stakeholders and interest groups to inform and advise them on the development of recommendations in compliance with the Memorandum. The Task Force sought comments on topics of particular interest. The public comment period began July 31, 2014 and closed on September 2, 2014. Comments can be viewed online by going directly to Regulations.gov and a PDF version of the FR Notice is available here.

Following a review of input from key stakeholders, the Task Force released its recommendations on December 18, 2014. The Task Force requested comments from key stakeholders and interest groups to advise on how to most effectively implement the proposed recommendations. The public comment period began December 18, 2014 and closed on January 20, 2015. The proposed recommendations can be accessed through the Federal Register website and a PDF of the recommendations can be found here.

The public engagement process also included 4 public meetings with Task Force representatives. Transcripts of these meetings (2 conference calls and 2 in-person meetings) can be accessed below. The presentation provided at all four public meetings can be accessed here.
• August 13, 2014 - Conference Call: Transcript
• August 20, 2014 - In-Person Meeting, Seattle, Washington: Transcript
• August 27, 2014 - Conference Call: Transcript
• August 28, 2014 - In-Person Meeting, Washington, DC: Transcript


Recommendations

Recommendation 1

International – Port State Measures
Work with Congress to pass implementing legislation for the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA). Direct the Secretary of State to promote entry into force and full implementation of the PSMA.

Recommendation 2 

International – Best Practices
Direct the Task Force to develop, within one year (and refine as appropriate in subsequent years), best practices for catch documentation and data tracking; high seas boarding and inspection; monitoring, control, and surveillance measures (including observer programs, vessel tracking systems, authorized vessel lists); port State control; and compliance monitoring and promote their adoption in each of the Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs) of which the United States is a member.

Recommendation 3 

International – Maritime Domain Awareness
Direct the Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security to include IUU fishing threat analysis and monitoring as a component of U.S. and international efforts to increase overall maritime domain awareness.

Recommendation 4

International – Free Trade Agreements 
Direct the U.S. Trade Representative to use existing Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and future FTAs to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud, including through enhanced cooperation with our trading partners and commitments to enforce environmental and labor laws.

Recommendation 5

International – Fishery Subsidies  
Direct the U.S. Trade Representative, and the Secretaries of State and Commerce to pursue international commitments to eliminate fisheries subsidies that contribute to excess fishing capacity, overfishing, and IUU fishing by 2020.

Recommendation 6

International – Capacity Building
Direct the Secretaries of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, and State, the Administrator of USAID, and the Attorney General to coordinate with donors, multilateral institutions, and foreign governments and prioritize building capacity to sustainably manage fisheries and combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud.

Recommendation 7

International – Diplomatic Priority 

Direct the Secretary of State to maintain combating IUU fishing and seafood fraud as a diplomatic priority in order to gain the support of senior officials in priority countries to enhance political will for combating IUU fishing and seafood fraud.

Recommendation 8

Enforcement – Information Sharing 

Direct the Task Force members, to include the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and the Interior, and the Attorney General to develop within 180 days a strategy with implementation deadlines to optimize the collection, sharing, and analysis of information and resources to prevent IUU or fraudulently labeled seafood from entering U.S. commerce. This strategy should include a plan to increase support and coordination across agencies for forensic analysis of seafood species and corresponding collection, archiving, and analysis of related reference specimens, as well as reflect efforts to increase coordination with state and local governments per Recommendation 11. 

Recommendation 9

Enforcement – Customs Mutual Assistance Agreements

Direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to leverage existing and future Customs Mutual Assistance Agreements (CMAAs) to exchange relevant information and encourage foreign customs administrations to cooperate in combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and seafood fraud.

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.

Recommendation 11

Enforcement – State and Local

Direct the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security, and the Attorney General to work with state and local enforcement authorities to expand information sharing and develop tools that address illegal fishing and seafood fraud at the state and local level.

Recommendation 12

Enforcement – Enforcement Authorities 

Work with Congress to the extent necessary to broaden agency enforcement authorities, including those to 1) search, inspect, and seize seafood, both at the point of entry into U.S. commerce (whether from foreign or domestic sources) and throughout the supply chain; and 2) pursue a full range of judicial enforcement options for trafficking and other violations related to IUU fishing and seafood fraud.

Recommendation 13

Partnerships – Forum

Direct the Task Force to establish a regular forum with harvesters, importers, dealers, retailers, processors, and non-governmental organizations to enhance collaboration in combating IUU fishing and seafood fraud and to improve understanding of the levels and nature of IUU fishing and seafood fraud and related criminal activities.

Recommendations 14 and 15

Traceability – Traceability Program 

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.