Department of State


Department of State Mission: Create a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world for the benefit of the American people and the international community. 

Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science Mission: Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Catherine Novelli oversees the State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES).  OES works to develop and implement oceans, environmental, science, and technology policies. 

The Office of Marine Conservation (OMC) within OES is responsible for formulating and implementing U.S. policy on a broad range of international issues concerning living marine resources.  In executing this responsibility, OMC negotiates bilateral and multilateral fisheries agreements, participates in international fisheries conservation and management organizations and arrangements at the regional and global levels, and represents the U.S. in other international fora associated with the conservation and management of living marine resources.

The Office of Oceans and Polar Affairs (OPA) within OES is responsible for formulating and implementing U.S. policy on international issues concerning the oceans, the Arctic, and Antarctica.

Role in implementing the Task Force Recommendations:

The Department of State leads the United States’ international engagement on fishing and other ocean issues and works with other US federal agencies and constituents to, inter alia:

  • Control and prevent illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing;
  • Promote a level playing field for U.S. fishermen and access to fishery resources on an equitable basis;
  • Adopt and implement effective and enforceable conservation and management measures based on reliable and objective science; 
  • Adopt and implement effective monitoring, control, and surveillance (MCS) measures; and
  • Promote trade regimes that contribute to sustainable fisheries.

Combating IUU fishing is a top U.S. priority.  President Obama selected the Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment to serve as co-chair of the Presidential Task Force on Combating IUU Fishing and Seafood Fraud.  Under Secretary of State Cathy Novelli currently co-chairs the newly established National Ocean Council Committee on IUU Fishing and Seafood Fraud.  The Department of State is working to advance all Task Force Recommendations and leads on several, including: Recommendation 1: Port State Measures Agreement; Recommendation 2: Best Practices for Regional Fisheries Management Organizations ( RFMOs) ; Recommendation 3: Maritime Domain Awareness; Recommendation 6: Building Capacity; Recommendation 7: Diplomatic Priority; and Recommendations 14 and 15: Traceability Program.  The State Department is also implementing Sea Scout, a new global initiative that will unite governments and stakeholders worldwide in the fight against IUU fishing by focusing global assets and partnerships on identifying, interdicting, and prosecuting IUU fishing organizations and networks around the world.


The Department of State plays the lead role in developing and implementing the President's foreign policy.