New U.S. Seafood Import Rules Would Reduce Harm to Marine Mammals in Foreign Fisheries
Public Comment Deadline August 30, 2010 August 13th, 2010
Sea Turtle Restoration Project is seeking support from ocean conservation groups, U.S. commercial and recreational fishers, restaurants and supermarkets and other organizations and coalitions who support the strongest protections for marine mammals in international wild-capture fisheries.
Please join us in establishing standards for imported seafood as required under the Marine Mammal Protection Act – a goal of zero bycatch of marine mammals. Support new regulations on imported seafood that will require all nations selling fish to the U. S. to prove that harm to marine mammals and other protect species was minimized or eliminated.
Please sign-on to our coalition letter, send in your own comments and mobilize your members to submit comments before the August 30, 2010, deadline. Read the letter here, then contact Teri Shore if your organization or group wants to sign on by August 27, 2010.
Contact: Teri Shore (415) 663-8590 x104 firstname.lastname@example.org
The U.S. is a very close second to Japan as the biggest importer of seafood in the world, consuming more than 5 billion pounds of fish every year. Americans eat 16 pounds of seafood per capita, 80 percent of it imported. This hunger for fish takes a major toll on the oceans and marine mammals.
Every year hundreds of thousands of whales, dolphins, sea lions and other marine mammals are captured or killed by international fishing fleets, mostly in drift gillnets. Gillnets and longlines also capture threatened and endangered sea turtles, seabirds and other marine wildlife. Millions of pounds of fish caught in these deadly fisheries are allowed to enter the U. S. in violation of the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), which requires a ban on imported fish caught in ways that harm marine mammals in excess of U. S. standards for domestic fisheries.
Specifically, Section 101(a)(2) of the MMPA [ 16 U.S.C. § 1371(a)(2)], requires that the U.S. “ban the importation of commercial fish or fish products that have been caught with commercial fishing technology which results in the incidental kill or incidental serious injury of marine mammals in excess of United States standards.” By requiring foreign nations to prove that their fishing methods do not result in harm to marine mammals in excess of U.S. standards before allowing those nations to export fish and fish products to the U.S., MMPA section 101 ensures that the U.S.’s considerable economic power provides an incentive to conserve, rather than obliterate, marine mammal populations. It also serves to protect U.S. fishers from unfair competition by foreign fishers operating without appropriate restraints on fishing practices.
Until now the U.S. government has not enforced the MMPA for seafood imports nor defined what it means to comply with U. S. standards. National Marine Fisheries Service is now taking the first steps towards developing regulations to ensure that all seafood sold in the U.S. meets or exceeds domestic standards for protecting marine mammals from being harmed or killed as bycatch in commercial fisheries.
Anadvanced notice of proposed rulemakingto define U. S. standards and describe procedures for enforcing those standards for protecting marine mammals under the MMPA was published on April 30, 2010. The deadline for public comment was extended to Aug. 30, 2010. The rulemaking was in response to a May 2008 petition by Turtle Island Restoration Network (TIRN) and Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) requesting that the United States government start enforcing the longstanding requirements of the MMPA to protect marine mammals by banning swordfish imports from nations that had not submitted proof that their fisheries did not injure and kill marine mammals in excess of U.S. standards. The rulemaking is broader and seeks to establish and define U. S. standards for all imported seafood.