The U.S. is one of the largest seafood markets for imported seafood—importing more than 5.3 billion pounds of seafood per year—worth almost $18 billion annually. Currently, our laws are not strong enough to determine if the seafood we consume was caught legally. Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing activities (IUU fishing) violate both national and international fishing regulations and threaten ocean ecosystems and sustainable fisheries.
Unreported fishing practices, including false reports and not reporting catches, promote overfishing. Fisheries take in more than they state, taxing the ocean ecosystems they fish in. Unregulated fishing, such as fishing taking place in areas lacking conservation or management measures, also promote straining the oceans.
Along with the stress placed on the ecosystem, IUU fishing often involves other impacts. Crew members on IUU fishing vessels are often subjected to poor working conditions. Food security and socioeconomic stability are affected, especially in developing nations. Lower quality seafood floods the market, hurting seafood that were caught properly or ethically.