Fish Radio
Pirate fishing parameters, species being defined by US gov
May 27, 2015

 This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch — What seafoods should be listed as at risk from pirate fishing? The feds want your input. More after this —

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 The US government is getting tough on fisheries that are illegal, unreported and unregulated, or more simply, pirated by rogue fishing fleets. In March, a special Presidential Task Force released its action plan which outlines aggressive steps federal agencies will take to stop pirate fishing. The public is being asked to weigh in on the criteria used to determine what species are at risk.

“We as consumers and as Americans don’t want to contribute to the depletion or extinction of any species abroad – and so we need to figure out what are those species coming to our borders – and without naming the species specifically, what are the red flags we should be watching out for.” 6

 Mark Gleason is director of Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers. Alaska king crab is the poster child for pirate fishing by Russian fleets. Trade data show that 40 percent of the king crab sold in world markets in 2012 was from illegal harvests. Conservative estimates peg the illegal crab harvest two years ago at 100 million pounds.

 “One of the reasons there is so much Russian crab is that they don’t have strong governanace in place, they don’t have good enforcement or the ability to differentiate between legal or illegal crab when it’s exported. Those are the red flags that should be going off when we’re looking at a consignment of product coming to the US border.”

 The US will use input from agencies and the public to develop a list of protocols and species eligible for a tough traceability program from harvest to entry into the US.  Along with Alaska crab, that might include grouper being tapped by Mexican or South American pirates, or tuna taken on the high seas.

 Gleason says for the first time, the US is developing time lines, trade objectives and measurable objectives to make global governments accountable for pirate fishing fleets. He credits Alaska’s congressional reps for relentlessly pushing for protections for both fish and US fishermen.

 “And I applaud the administration – President Obama and the folks that work with him, they seem to really get this issue in the last couple of years. The crabbers have been yelling about this for 20 some odd years and no seems to have listened. But in recent years, it’s gotten the attention of policy makers.”

Comments will be accepted by NOAA Fisheries through June 8.

The draft principles and list of “at risk” species will be published in July, and the Task Force will identify the next steps in expanding the program to all seafood entering U.S. commerce by December 2016.Find links at

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