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Pirate Fishing Poses Unnecessary Threat to US Fishers

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) issued the following statement from David Schorr, Head of WWF’s Transparent Seas Project, at this week’s Managing Our Nation’s Fisheries conference in Washington, DC:

“While our nation’s fisheries managers focus on many issues this week, they urgently need to figure out how to get illegal fish products out of the US seafood supply.

Pirate fishing is a serious but hidden problem that is taking money out of the pockets of honest American fishers. While illegal fishing is responsible for about 20 percent of wild fish catches worldwide, we still have no effective way to keep illegal fish products off US shelves. Every fish that gets sold in the US must be a legal and traceable one.

“While US fisheries are among the best managed in the world, the presence of illegal fish in our seafood supply puts both the long-term viability of global fisheries and the livelihoods of law abiding fishers at risk. Industry and government must begin working together to ensure that America’s seafood supply is fully traceable to legal sources.

“It is disappointing and frustrating when critics of strong fisheries management claim that US policies put them at a competitive disadvantage in the international seafood market. The answer is not to lower US standards, but to deny market access to the pirate fishers who operate outside the law.

“We can win the fight against pirate fishing if industry leaders, conservation experts, and governments pull together and agree to common-sense solutions. By working with industry leaders like the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation and others, we are already starting to make a difference. But it’s going to take stronger regulations and new commercial practices to reach a real solution.”