Today in front of ocean leaders from more than 80 nations at the State Department’s “Our Ocean” conference, President Obama announced he would direct government towards a new national strategy to address black market fishing, an initiative to combat illegally caught fish from reaching US markets and ending up on dinner tables and on store shelves across the country. President Obama also announced plans to lead the fight to protect world oceans by working together and redoubling our shared conservation efforts.
These announcements are part of a bigger focus by the Administration on marine related issues. This week Secretary of State John Kerry brought together some of the world’s leading thinkers to chart a path for securing the future of our planet’s oceans and the communities and economies they support. Leaders from governments, business, and NGOs and school children representing the voice of our future generation, delved into the most pressing issues facing our oceans, including marine pollution, protected areas and fisheries.
“It’s clear that the President and Secretary Kerry understand and value the importance of protecting our oceans,” said Michele Kuruc, acting senior vice president for marine conservation, WWF. “By expanding marine protected areas and combatting illegal fishing, the administration is using the power of the presidency to secure the long-term health of our oceans and the livelihoods they support.”
Combatting black market fishing
Illegal fishing is a global challenge and complex by its very nature. Valued globally at up to $23 billion a year, illegal fish are caught in areas of the ocean which are often out of sight. The fish then begin their journey around the global seafood market, often mingling with legally caught fish, eventually ending up on dinner plates around the world. It is nearly impossible to really know where each fish was caught and how, which is why the announcement today towards traceability of our seafood is a first big step in a longer journey to combat illegal fishing globally
This has also been an issue of concern for the American Public. In the lead up to the Our Ocean conference, WWF partnered with Oceana in an action calling for President Obama to stop illegal fishing. More than 60,000 people spoke up and these signatures were hand-delivered to the White House.
WWF looks forward to engaging leaders of this new government initiative, working together with industry and other key stakeholders through the process. WWF encourages the Administration to use this opportunity to establish new regulations for ensuring traceability within the global seafood marketplace.