A US working group will engage with partners, including Ecuador, Panama, Senegal, Taiwan and Vietnam to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, curtail the global trade of IUU fish and fish products, and promote global maritime security.
This US Interagency Working Group on Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, comprising 21 Federal agencies, will release its National Five-Year Strategy for Combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing (2022-2026) by the end of July.
This comes as US President Joe Biden on Monday (local time) signed a National Security Memorandum (NSM) to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and related harmful fishing practices.
Taking to Twitter, US State Secretary Antony Blinken wrote, "Today's actions by President Joe Biden will allow the United States to take a whole-of-government approach to addressing illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and associated criminal activities, such as the use of forced labor in the seafood supply chain."
IUU fishing is among the greatest threats to ocean health and is a significant cause of global overfishing, contributing to the collapse or decline of fisheries that are critical to the economic growth, food systems, and ecosystems of numerous countries around the world, said State Department in its press release.
Distant water fishing vessels, which engage in industrial-scale fishing operations on the high seas and in waters under other states' jurisdictions, can be significant perpetrators of IUU fishing and related harmful fishing practices.
"IUU fishing often involves forced labor, human trafficking, and other crimes and human rights abuses. Left unchecked, IUU fishing and associated labor abuses undermine U.S. economic competitiveness, national security, fisheries sustainability, and the livelihoods and human rights of fishers around the world and will exacerbate the environmental and socioeconomic effects of climate change," the release added.
The Biden Administration will address IUU fishing by increasing coordination with diverse stakeholders -- public and private, foreign and domestic. According to the statsment, the United States Government will use the full range of existing conservation, labor, trade, economic, diplomatic, law enforcement, and national security authorities to address three major challenges.
First is promoting labor rights, human rights, and fundamental freedoms through worker-centered trade policies and working to ensure that supply chains are free from forced labor, including by engaging with international institutions and trade partners to address forced labor and other abusive labor practices in IUU fishing.
Next is collaborating within international organizations, including regional bodies, and partnering with stakeholders from governments, civil society, and the private sector, to increase global attention on the challenges of IUU fishing, including by distant water fishing vessels, and related abusive labor practices, such as the use of forced labor in seafood supply chains.
Lastly, in combatting abuses and strengthening incentives for ethical behavior in the global seafood industry, including by limiting the market for products derived from IUU fishing, forced labor, or other abusive labor practices.
Moreover, the United States, the UK, and Canada will launch an IUU Fishing Action Alliance aimed at increasing ambition and momentum in the fight against IUU fishing, including a pledge to take urgent action to improve the monitoring, control, and surveillance of fisheries, increase transparency in fishing fleets and in the seafood market, and build new partnerships that will hold bad actors accountable. (ANI)