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125,000 Americans Urge Obama Administration to End Black Market Fishing

Washington, DC – World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and more than 125,000 of its US supporters today urged the Obama Administration to take strong action to end the global illegal fishing epidemic.

“As one of the largest markets on the planet for imported seafood – valued at almost $18 billion annually – the United States essentially helps drive illegal fishing that occurs around the world,” said WWF Vice President for Marine Policy Michele Kuruc. “If we can successfully close our borders to illegal products, we can change that course.”

Later this month, the US has an unprecedented opportunity to put a dent in the global trade of illegal seafood. The Presidential Task Force on Combatting Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud is expected to present President Obama with a comprehensive set of recommendations outlining steps the federal government should take to keep illegal seafood from being imported into the US.

WWF provided supporter signatures to the Task Force’s co-chairs, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrator Kathryn Sullivan and Department of State Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Catherine Novelli.

“The President’s Task Force represents the best opportunity in decades for the US to put in place working solutions that can essentially end illegal fishing,” added Kuruc. “We can’t shy away from strong solutions. Americans deserve to know the fish they buy is not stolen, US fishermen deserve a level playing field, and our oceans deserve to be protected.”

In part, WWF and its supporters are asking the Task Force to recommend the issuance of new regulations that build on existing law or existing legal frameworks to ensure all fish are fully traceable to legal sources.

The regulations should require:

  1. Catch Documentation: That all seafood sold in the United States be accompanied with basic and consistent information,
  2. Traceable to legal and verifiable sources: That this information should be traceable by regulators and supply chain actors from bait to plate, and
  3. Border Control: And that border measures should be designed to allow for informed decisions about product legality based on this information.

The full petition is available on worldwildlife.org. For more about illegal fishing’s impact on our oceans and the honest fishers that rely on them for their livelihoods, visit http://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/illegal-fishing.

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