Tools Left Unused to Combat Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing

The Moratorium Protection Act of 1995 is one of the most important authorities the United States government has to stop illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) seafood products from entering US markets but it could be used to achieve far more effective results. As the largest single-country seafood market in the world, the US has significant leverage to advance efforts to combat IUU fishing worldwide through the sanctions it can impose.

An important first step to more effectively combat IUU fishing globally would be to expand the US definition of IUU fishing to be more comprehensive, as well as to include fishing that has been conducted by forced labor. WWF conducted research on the impact such changes would have by evaluating many public databases to identify additional violations. Based on this research, if the US were to expand its definition of IUU fishing and broaden its information collection, an additional 600 reported violations from 70 flag states would have been identified in the 2019 Report to Congress—compared to the three identified in the report.