24-36 % of seafood imports to Japan are of illegal and unreported origin

Seafood is an integral part of the Japanese culture and comprises more than 40% of animal protein consumed each year. Japan is the third leading seafood importer in the world, importing 2.54 million tonnes of seafood valued at US$ 13.8 billion in 2014. Previous studies have shown that as much as 20–32 % of seafood imported by USA is of IUU origin.

 

In the absence of reliable traceability systems and enforcement capacity, countries in the developing world often certify and export products without adequate provenance

Investigation of illegal and unreported fishing in source countries indicates that 24–36% of 2.15 million tonnes of wild-seafood imports to Japan in 2015 were of illegal and unreported origin, valued at $1.6 to $2.4 billion. A supply chain case study of crab imported from Russia illustrates the intricacies of trade in illegal seafood products in the Asia-Pacific region.

Read the full paper here: Pramod, G., Pitcher, T. J., & Mantha, G. (2017) Estimates of illegal and unreported seafood imports to Japan. Marine Policy, 84, 42-51.

 

U.S. Seafood Import Monitoring Program – Viable or Unviable?

Trading in IUU seafood and mislabeled products distort markets and efforts of legally bound seafood companies and traders that have invested massively in both buying legal quotas for fish stocks as well as technologies associated with harvesting (licenses, VMS, Observers, etc.) and trading in domestic and international markets (E-trade and electronic tools for boat to plate traceability for convenience of the regulators and consumers). More than 92% of seafood consumed in USA is imported from other countries making it one of the major market states as far as global seafood trade is concerned. Illegal and unreported catches represent 20–32% by weight of wild-caught seafood imported to the USA (Pramod et al., 2014).

USA is also perhaps the only country after European Union (bloc of countries) to promulgate new rules towards reducing imports of IUU seafood from developing countries. The process of reaching this ambitious goal included formation of “Presidential Task Force on Combatting IUU Fishing” on 17 June 2014 which identified 15 priority species for the import traceability program over a two-year period. The Presidential Task Force also conducted a broad public and industry engagement process that lasted several months to refine the identification process for the 15 products.

15-proudcts-in-the-simp

Implementation

On 8 December 2016, U.S. Government released the Final Rule to implement Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) to address illegal fishing. The seafood traceability program (SIMP) aims to improve collection of data on “harvest, landing, and chain of custody of certain fish and fish products imported into the United States that have been identified as particularly vulnerable to IUU fishing and seafood fraud” (NOAA 2016). The SIMP would apply traceability requirements from point of harvest in origin country to point of entry in U.S. Commerce (seaports or airports where the product first enters USA). The seafood imported into U.S. “will be required to keep records regarding the chain of custody of the fish or fish product from harvest to point of entry into U.S.” (NOAA 2016). Except for “shrimp and abalone” all products listed under SIMP will be required to comply with this Rule from 1 January 2018.

Lawsuit

On 6 January 2016, National Fisheries Institute (NFI) in association with, 6 Seafood companies (Alfa International, Fortune Fish & Gourmet, Handy Seafood, Pacific Seafood Group, Trident Seafoods, and Libby Hill Seafood Restaurants) and 2 West Coast Associations (Pacific Seafood Processors Association and the West Coast Seafood Processors Association) filed a lawsuit in a federal court against NOAA and Obama Administration claiming that the new rule is not based on risk assessment and that SIMP will impose financial burden on the seafood industry (Seafood news 2017).

Future?

The lawsuit against implementation of SIMP raises several questions as (1) the 15 species/product combinations identified in the import monitoring program (SIMP) represent only 40% of the seafood that enters U.S. commerce, although several iconic species such as sharks and tuna are part of the program (2) When seafood companies are confident of their procurement practices, documentation and sourcing why do they want the SIMP not to be implemented when on the contrary SIMP can raise the credibility for their products against other certifications such as Marine Stewardship Council which require significant investments in the whole supply chain. (3) If risk assessment is an issue why was it not addressed during the 6-month consultation process by the Presidential Task Force and NOAA.

With the Trump Administration assuming power on 20 January 2017, several doubts now linger on whether the SIMP would be implemented or replaced with a new IUU policy.

References:

NOAA (2016) Final Rule to Implement a Seafood Import Monitoring Program, NOAA Fisheries, 8 December 2016.

Pramod, G., Nakamura, K., Pitcher, T.J., & Delagran, L. (2014) Estimates of illegal and unreported fish in seafood imports to the USA. Marine Policy, 48, 102-113.

Seafoodnews.com (2017) NFI Sues NOAA Over New Seafood Fraud Import Rules Claiming Regulatory Overreach, Seafoodnews.com, 9 January 2017.

3 Chinese squid jiggers in South African waters – Illegal fishing or innocent passage ?

In recent months, the Fu Yuan Yu fleet has come into focus for illegal tuna fishing in the southern Indian Ocean. Back in March this year i wrote about the Fu Yuan Yu tuna fleet which was spotted illegally fishing for tuna in the southern Indian Ocean. Although Sea Shepherd patrol vessel pursued the fleet and documented their illegal activities, none of the 6 tuna longliners was ever detained or penalized by the Chinese Government for illegal driftnet fishing and unregulated fishing on the high seas.

I spoke to one source who stated that they often avoided tuna vessels from other countries and often operated in remote locations. “The number of vessels from Fu Yuan Yu company are many. No one knows the exact number, or their names. They often transfer their catches to motherships on the high seas, while some larger vessels bring their catches directly into Chinese ports on the mainland. There are no reports of boarding of any of the “Fu Yuan Yu” tuna  and squid jigger fleet so there is no knowledge on kinds of gear or species targeted by this fleet. They often declare their catches from high seas so no country can intervene to prove legitimacy of the catches onboard”

Very little is known about the Chinese company, ownership, management, movements and activities of the “Fu Yuan Yu” fleet in the high seas.

According to another source, the Fu Yuan Yu fleet is owned by Dongxinglong Ocean Fishing Company Ltd, based in Fu Zhou, Fujian Province, China. The company operates a fleet of trawlers, squid jiggers and tuna longliners in Indian, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

On May 22, 2016 three Chinese Squid jiggers were detained by South African patrol vessel on suspicion of illegal fishing in South African EEZ. All three jiggers were escorted to Port of East London for further investigation. A combined total of nearly 600 tonnes of squids were found onboard all three vessels. Both Fu Yuan Yu 7880 (Call sign BVSK7) and Fu Yuan Yu 7881 (BVSL7) have Gross registered tonnage of 1497, are flagged to China and authorised to fish for squid in SPRFMO regional fishery management organization area until March 31, 2017. The SPRFMO vessels list shows their registration details as ((MIN)CHUAN DENG(JI) (2014)FT-200050HAO). Although Run Da 617 has a Indonesian captain, it is registered to China under the SPRFMO vessel list.

I think the South African Government should have more information on the ownership, vessel registration and operational activities of the fleet based on inspections of documents and technical equipment onboard detained vessels. Current investigations by DAFF at ports could involve inspections of cargo seized to ascertain whether squids in the fishing hold were caught within or outside South African EEZ. If the investigations by DAFF and South African Government reveal that squids in the holds of all three squid jiggers was not caught in the South African waters, they could go scot free.

A) Current information suggest that the trio did not inform South African authorities when they entered the EEZ. If it was just innocent passage the question would then arise as to why they did not allow boarding and gave hot pursuit when patrol vessels confronted them at sea.

B) When the three Chinese flagged vessels were detected at sea last weekend in South African waters, photographic evidence suggests they were brightly lit at night as if they were actually fishing. If they were passing through South African waters, they certainly don’t need to be brightly lit when passing throughout the deck. They also failed to co-operate and did not respond to radio communication.

C) Can the three jiggers be identified fishing illegally using AIS signals within South African EEZ. Is there any evidence of fishing gear and fishing activity. According to statement from Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries spokesperson Bomikazi Molapo “Two foreign vessels were spotted on a navy vessel’s automated identification system on the Eastern Cape coastline on Friday. “We established that the vessels had gear on board and we verified that they had not applied to enter into our Exclusive Economic Zone, which created suspicion. The seas were rough, which made it impossible for our inspectors to board the vessels. Our fishery control officers instructed the vessels through radio communication to sail to East London Port, but they did not co-operate. The department’s patrol vessel and a navy vessel engaged in a high-speed chase to intercept the foreign vessels which were attempting to flee. The vessels stopped and switched off their engines, but on Sunday at 02:00 restarted them and tried to flee towards the east.”

The South African government has been silent so far on what they have discovered so far during questioning of Chinese Captains, documents seized and VMS data, vessel tracks, catch documentation, license information, flag registry etc. All three captains have been produced in court, but there is no information on allegations for which the vessels have been detained.

 

 

Thailand and the UN – Port State Measures Agreement: Will Accession facilitate more inspections at Thai ports?

Thailand is a major player in global seafood trade and processing of fishery products. Among the major fish producer countries Thailand was ranked 14 in 2012 with capture fisheries landings of more than 1.6 million tonnes. However, Thailand exhibits its dominance as the third largest exporter of seafood in the world (8.1% of the global seafood exports valued at 8079 million US$ in 2012) after China and Norway.

With bulk of the production dependent on imported raw material from other countries ports play a major role in entry of products for both legal and illegal origin. Currently, very little is known about the extent of inspections in Thai fishing ports? With a sprawling network of fishing ports spread across Gulf of Thailand and Andaman Sea, more than 15 ports cater large fishing vessels while 12 smaller ports cater imports for smaller vessels from Malaysia, Myanmar, and Cambodia. Vessels wishing entry are required to inform authorities at least 48 hours in advance and both Thai port authorities and the Department of Fisheries have the authority to deny entry for foreign vessels. In most cases, fishing boats are allowed to land.

In order to strengthen catch inspections Thailand is also developing an electronic system for the traceability of fish and fishery products. Under the new Royal Ordinance on Fisheries B.E. 2558 (2015) that came into effect from November last year more intense inspections are required to deny entry to illegal vessels and strengthen inspections at ports.

Thailand became the 26th nation to ratify the Port State Measures Agreement. Recent ratifications include Guyana, Dominica, Sudan, Tonga and Vanuatu. As of 16 May 2016 thirty countries have ratified PSMA and the agreement would come into force on 5 June 2016.

On 6 May 2016, Thailand announced that it has acceded to the FAO Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing. A press statement said:

“Today, Thailand formally accedes to the FAO Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing, underlying Thailand’s strong commitment to work with the international community to address this common challenge. The Royal Thai Embassy in Rome deposited Thailand’s instrument of accession to the FAO today.” 

On 10 May 2016, H.E. Mr. Tana Weskosith, the Thai Ambassador to Italy, and Mr. Sompong Nimchuar, Minister (Agricultural Affairs) / Permanent Representative to FAO, met with H.E. Mr. José Graziano da Silva, the Director-General of the FAO, to present the Instrument of Accession of the Kingdom of Thailand to the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing (PSMA).

Challenges:

  1. Imports of huge volumes of frozen and processed seafood from foreign countries poses challenges for inspectors at ports. More than 50% of the imports comprised of tuna, followed by frozen fish (38%), cephalopods (6%) and shrimps, etc.
  2. Multiple agencies are involved in fisheries inspections at ports before cargo is cleared by customs.
  3. There is very little information on current state of inspections at Thai ports (EU – Yellow card has led to progress on several fronts in both administration and legal contexts).
  4. There are significant landings of fish and seafood products of Thai origin in fishing docks spread along both coasts. Domestic fishing fleet of more than 50,000 trawlers. VMS transponders have already been installed on 2100 trawlers above 60 gross tonnes.
  5. There is currently no data on number of foreign flagged reefers and fishing vessels visiting Thai ports and what percentage is inspected each year.

Other Resources:

FAO (2016) Ground-breaking illegal fishing accord soon to enter into force, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 16 May 2016.

MFA (2016) Thailand accedes to the FAO Agreement on Port State Measures, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand, May 11, 2016.

IUU Risk Intelligence (2016) Port State Measures Agreement – 25 parties on the table, IUU Risk Intelligence, March 31, 2016.

IUU Risk Intelligence (2015) Why more incentives for fishing industry in Thailand won’t help in controlling IUU Fishing, IUU Risk Intelligence, December 31, 2015.

SOFIA (2014) The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2014, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.

Port State Measures Agreement – 25 parties on the table

On 30 March 2016, Gambia’s national assembly ratified the UN agreement on Port State Measures to prevent, deter and eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU). This brings the number of parties formally ratifying the treaty to 25.

Pursuant to Article 29, the Agreement shall enter into force thirty days after the date of deposit of the twenty-fifth instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession with the Director-General of FAO. The UN Port State Measures Agreement would formally come into force on 5 June 2016.

Here is a list of 30 parties and the dates on which the deposit of ratification to the agreement were provided to the Director-General of FAO.

Australia (20 July 2015)

Barbados (2 February 2016)

Chile (28 August 2012)

Costa Rica (4 December 2015)

Cuba (25 March 2016)

Dominica

European Union – Member Organization (7 July 2011)

Gabon (15 November 2013)

Gambia (30 March 2016) – Date of ratification in the Gambia National Assembly

Guinea Bissau

Guyana (7 March 2016)

Iceland (16 June 2015)

Mauritius (31 August 2015)

Mozambique (19 August 2014)

Myanmar (22 November 2010)

New Zealand (21 February 2014)

Norway (20 July 2011)

Oman (1 August 2013)

Palau (30 November 2015)

Republic of Korea (14 January 2016)

Saint Kitts and Nevis (9 December 2015)

Seychelles (19 June 2013)

Somalia (9 November 2015)

Sri Lanka (20 January 2011)

Sudan

South Africa (16 February 2016)

Thailand (10 May 2016)

Tonga

USA (26 February 2016)

Uruguay (28 February 2013)

Vanuatu

 

The Fu Yuan Yu fleet – Illegal Chinese driftnet activities on the high seas

In January 2016, the Sea Shepherd’s patrol vessel “Steve Irwin” detected a fleet of six longliners fishing on the high seas in a remote part of southern Indian Ocean. It is rare to see tuna vessels fishing in such remote location so “Steve Irwin” pursued the fleet it saw on its radar and intercepted one of them (Fu Yuan Yu 073). The vessel was actively fishing and upon detection by the Sea Shepherd vessel abandoned its fishing gear “a large 5 kms long driftnet”. Steve Irwin decided to remove the illegal gear and document the extent of damage caused by the driftnet operations. One driftnet that was hauled by Steve Irwin revealed extent of the damage. Catch retrieved from a single 5 km long illegal driftnet included a brown seal, dolphin, sharks and other pelagic fish.

On 20 December 1991 U.N. passed Resolution 46/215 banning operation of large-scale pelagic high seas drift-net fishing and to ensure that a global moratorium on all large-scale pelagic drift-net fishing is fully implemented on the high seas of the world’s oceans and seas, including enclosed seas and semi-enclosed seas, by 31 December 1992.

The Fu Yuan Yu fleets appears to be Chinese fleet that does not appear on list of authorized vessels on any of the Regional Fishery Management Organizations (IOTC, WCPFC, CCSBT, etc.) managing high seas fish stocks. The fleet of six vessels detected by Sea Shepherd (Fu Yuan Yu 70, 71, 72, 73, 75, 76) if indeed Chinese pose a grave concern with respect to transparency of Chinese distant water fleet operations. (“On 13 February 1993, the Ministry of Agriculture promulgated a regulation prohibiting large-scale driftnet fishing on the high seas and notified local governments and fishing companies. The PRC announced that the regulation would be enforced by confiscating the catch, fishing gear and related income and imposing a fine; detaining or revoking the fishermen’s license; and “bringing to account by administrative means the chief executives of the entities owning the vessels” (UN Secretary-General’s Report 1993). Chinese Government through its MOA issued two circulars one in November 1990 “Circular on the UN Resolution on the Ban of Large scale Driftnet on the high Seas” and another one on 8 June 1991 “Circular on the Restriction of Largescale Driftnet Fishing on the High Seas” asking vessels to strictly abide by the conditions in their fishing permit and refrain from using driftnets on the high seas.

On January 5, 2016 from an office in USA, several thousand miles away a data analyst named Bjorn Bergman from SkyTruth blogged about unusual vessel activity by a fleet of six vessels operating in a remote area of southern Indian Ocean. The SkyTruth team was observing the vessels for more than a month near the same area where Sea Irwin spotted the six Chinese vessels. The activity of the Fu Yuan Yu fleet was strange as they were more than 500 miles away from known fishing vessels operating in the southern Indian Ocean. Skytruth shared the vessels tracks of the six vessels with several RFMOs, but none was able to confirm the activity. In a brazen attempt, the six vessels appeared near the search site for Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 without fear of being identified by three MH370 search vessels (Havila Harmony, Fugro Discovery & Fugro Equator).

Another Skytruth article on January 25, 2016, Skytruth blogged that the Chinese fishing vessels were targeting small pelagic fish.

If as reported the Fu Yuan Yu vessels 070, 071, 072, 073, 075, 076 are targeting small pelagic species (not tuna) then they would not need to be licensed by an RFMO (Regional Fishery Management Organization) in the Indian Ocean. However, we are still curious about the fishing methods of this fleet, described as lightning purse seiners. The lightning presumably refers to use of light attraction in their fishing operation. Each parent vessel appears to be associated with a string of 5 or 6 AIS beacons attached to some type of gear. The vessel and gear can be drifting and strung out in a 30 mile string as seen in the recent screenshots below. Or at other times each parent vessel and set of associated gear is in the same location. This pattern made us think of setting and retrieving a longline but these vessels have now been reported as purse seiners so the fishing operation is puzzling. Below you will see track for one of the fishing vessels, Fu Yuan Yu 070, as well as what we assume is a piece of associated fishing gear (070 04). The two tracks can be seen to overlay closely. We are looking for further information to clarify the fishing operation taking place

Images from Skytruth showing (1) activities of Fu Yuan Yu fleet near the MH370 search area; and figure (2) string of fishing gear associated with the fleet.

In fact, based on information from Sea Shepherd video dated March 16, 2016 we now know that they (Fu Yuan Yu fleet) might be fishing using driftnets and not targeting small-pelagics as previously thought. One of the pictures from Bjorn Bergman’s post shows that the vessels were likely transferring catches to another fish carrier “Liao Chang Yu Yun 88” which left the fleet after two weeks. Another reason the vessels activities can be deemed suspicious is because of how far they were operating from other tuna fleets in remote Indian Ocean for weeks at a time.

On a March 1, 2016 blogpost Skytruth states that the Fu Yuan Yu fleet might have moved north. Content from the March 1, 2016 post shows that the vessels have either switched off their AIS transponders or even tampered with vessel transponders to disguise their current position.

AIS tracks of the Fu Yuan Yu fleet showing probable tampering of AIS signals after detection by Sea Shepherd patrol vessel “Steve Irwin” (Source: Skytruth, March 1, 2016)

Sitting in a small home office in Vancouver, using different sources I am able to make sense of four different reports months apart as I check illegal fishing activities on a day-to-day basis. When I overlay the information from all four reports from (Sea Shepherd) and (Skytruth) I can draw conclusions to report that all the six Chinese vessels were probably engaged in illegal driftnet fishing catching bluefin tuna, sharks and indiscriminately killing marine mammals using banned fishing methods. Upon detection by Sea Shepherd the vessels probably fled the Southern Indian Ocean area and headed north (See Skytruth article). It is probably impossible to know the current locations of the Fu Yuan Yu fleet as they show tampered AIS signals. As an IUU fishing researcher I will follow up on this story and track AIS signals of the fleet. The six vessels need to be boarded and inspected to identify the extent of violations and to identify the vessels owners of this fleet. It is not wrong to surmise that the vessels might have changed their identity by now.

The above story throws light on three conventional problems:

  1. AIS or VMS signals alone are not enough to identify illegal fishing operations on the high seas.
  2. At sea direct presence and enforcement are necessary to achieve meaningful surveillance on the high seas.
  3. Nations lack physical capacity to control activities of their distant water fleet and exercise flag state responsibility.

Sources:

U.N. General Assembly (1991) U.N. Resolution 46/215, 20 December 1991.

Sea Shepherd (2016) Shocking Footage of Illegal Fishing in the Indian Ocean, March 15, 2016.

Skytruth (2016) Fishing fleet at MH370 search site may have moved North, March 1, 2016.

Skytruth (2016) Update on Fishing Fleet at MH370 Search Site, January 25, 2016.

Skytruth (2016) Unusual Vessel Behavior in the MH370 Search Area, January 5, 2016.

Cover photo (Source: Sea Shepherd)

USA becomes the 20th State to ratify Port State Measures Agreement

USA became the 20th country to ratify the UN Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA). On February 10, 2016 President Obama signed the law as the next step in the ratification process following the passage of the bipartisan Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing Enforcement Act of 2015 by the U.S. Congress. The spree of recent ratifications is seen as a stride in the right direction. If the present pace continues the treaty might come into effect sooner than expected.

The UN Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing was approved by the FAO Conference at its Thirty-sixth Session (Rome, 18-23 November 2009) under paragraph 1 of Article XIV of the FAO Constitution, through Resolution No 12/2009 dated 22 November 2009.

Pursuant to Article 29, the Agreement shall enter into force thirty days after the date of deposit with the Director-General of FAO of the twenty-fifth instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.

Read more about the announcement here:

U. S. Department of State, Port State Measures Agreement Ratification, February 11, 2016.

Do Americans really care if it is Alaska pollock or Russian pollock ?

New U.S. Federal Rule on acceptable market names could prevent mislabeling of pollock caught in Alaska (USA) and Russian waters.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently updated its list of acceptable market names for seafood caught in U.S. waters. The common name is the prevalent and often used for selling seafood to consumers. FDA states that vernacular name may lack the specificity of the scientific or technical name of seafood, but an appropriate common or usual name permits the public to distinguish between similar foods that are available in the marketplace.

The Alaskan pollock fishery is the nation’s largest food fishery in the United States, producing 1.3 million tons annually and accounting for 11% of American fresh and frozen fish intake. Amidst the ongoing concerns about mislabeling of pollock from Alaska seafood industry, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration updated its Seafood List to reflect a name change for Pollock. “As mandated by Congress in the fiscal year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations, only Pollock (Gadus chalcogrammus) caught in Alaskan waters or the exclusive economic zone (as defined in section 3 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act) adjacent to Alaska can be called “Alaskan Pollock” or “Alaska Pollock.” Previously, pollock harvested outside Alaskan waters or the exclusive economic zone was allowed to be labeled as “Alaska Pollock.” These fish can now be labeled only as “Pollock”. Approximately 40% of the fish labeled “Alaskan pollock” available to American consumers is caught in the Russian pollock fishery according to industry sources.

An interesting fact with respect to this discussion is that Russian Sea of Okhotsk pollock fishery (that represents over 70% the total allowable quota (TAC) share for pollock in the Russian Far East) is deemed sustainable through MSC certification. So, stocks exploited from both Alaska (USA) and Russian Far East are equally good choices as far as customers are concerned.

An updated U.S. FDA Seafood list for 2015 is shown below. The Seafood List is FDA’s Guide to Acceptable Market Names for Seafood Sold in Interstate Commerce within USA. The Seafood List is updated every six months, as resources permit, and summaries of those updates are posted on the Seafood List Guidance page. These updates include new additions to The Seafood List, any modifications to the scientific name (once the updated scientific nomenclature is agreed upon by the scientific community), and removal of any species that are endangered and not allowed to be sold in interstate commerce (FDA 2016).

2015 Seafood List Additions and Changes: July – December

TypeAdditions and Changes to the Seafood ListAcceptable Market Name(s)Regulation or LawCommon NameScientific Name
VSpecies name is affected by a law(†)FD&C 403(t)Bagarius bagarius
VSpecies name added(†)FD&C 403(t)Sucker CatfishesBagarius spp.
VSpecies name is affected by a lawGoonch (†)FD&C 403(t)Bagarius yarrelli
VCommon name added: Walking CatfishWalking Catfish (†)FD&C 403(t)Clarias gariepinus xClarias macrocephalus
VNew Species addedCarpGrass CarpCtenopharyngodon idella
VMarket Name Change: Alaska Pollock to Pollock by Legislative actionsPollockWalleye PollockGadus chalcogrammus
VSpecies name is affected by a lawBatashi (†)FD&C 403(t)Neotropius acutirostris
VCommon name added: Tiger SorubiPseudoplatystoma tigrinum
VCommon name added: Spotted SeerfishSpanish MackerelSpotted SeerfishScomberomorus guttatus
I(C)Scientific Name changed to Metacarcinus edwardsii, from Cancer edwardsiiCrab, RockMetacarcinus edwardsii
I(C)New Species addedShrimpSpeckled ShrimpNetapenaeus monoceros
I(C)New Species addedShrimpRainbow ShrimpParapenaeopsis sculptilis
I(C)New Species addedSwimming CrabGazami CrabPortunus trituberculatus

References

FDA (2016) The Seafood List, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, January 2016.

U.S. Congress (2016) H.R.2029 – Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, 114th Congress (2015-2016).

Stewardship through transparency – Implementation of IMO number for the EU fishing fleet

The European Commission has taken several steps over the past few years to improve transparency for foreign and EU flagged fishing vessels operating worldwide.

The first step was the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008 of 29 September 2008 establishing a Community system to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU Regulation). The Commission Decisions on notifying third countries of the possibility of being identified as a non-cooperating third country has generated much desired change through amendments to Fisheries Acts in developing countries and by improving traceability for fish imports into the European Union.

The second step included the publication of Who Fishes Far database, which provides information on EU vessels fishing in third-country waters and international waters; and third-country vessels fishing in EU waters.

EU has again demonstrated strong leadership through a new obligation that would require all foreign vessels and EU fishing vessels fishing in EU waters to have IMO number (unique global vessel identifier set up by the International Maritime Organization). IMO number remains linked to the hull for its lifetime, regardless of a change in name, flag, or owner assisting in global efforts to track vessel history as they change flags. European Commission proposal of 10 December 2015 called Regulation on the sustainable management of External Fishing Fleets (COM (2015) 636) will now be put before the European Parliament and Council of Ministers for amendments. The new measure would make the number mandatory for all vessels above 24 meters length fishing in EU waters and EU vessels over 15 meters fishing overseas. The EU Fleet Register lists 2,856 vessels over 24 meters and 8,205 vessels over 15 meters.

Read More:

NGOs welcome European Commission proposal to increase control and transparency of EU fleet fishing worldwide, December 10, 2015.

UN Port State Measures Agreement could be ratified soon ?

South Korea became the 19th country to ratify the UN Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) on 14 January 2016. The spree of recent ratifications is seen as a stride in the right direction. If the present pace continues the treaty might come into effect by the first week of June.

The PSMA would come into force on 5 June 2016. As of 16 May 2016,  30 parties have ratified the PSMA agreement.

The UN Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing was approved by the FAO Conference at its Thirty-sixth Session (Rome, 18-23 November 2009) under paragraph 1 of Article XIV of the FAO Constitution, through Resolution No 12/2009 dated 22 November 2009.

UN- PSMA (Ratifications) May 16, 2016Countries that have ratified the PSMA

Progress: 23 Parties have signed the agreement until today  include Angola, Australia, Benin, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, European Union, France, Gabon, Ghana, Iceland, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Russian Federation, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Turkey, USA, Uruguay. The Agreement shall enter into force thirty days after the date of deposit with the Director-General of FAO of the 25th instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession. With the latest spree of ratifications 30 parties have ratified the PSMA.

Countries with big import markets such as Japan, Taiwan and China should also become a party to bring meaningful change and improve traceability.

In this context however it is surprising to see that progressive countries like Canada and France are still lagging behind in the ratification process although both signed the treaty as early as 2010 (Canada and France signed the treaty on 19 November 2010). Brazil signed the treaty on 22 November 2009 but is yet to follow up with the ratification process.

UN - PSMA (Countries that have signed but not ratifed it yet)

Countries that have signed the PSMA but not ratified it yet

This fact assumes importance as five countries have directly ratified the treaty without initially signing it just within the last two months. The notable five include Republic of Korea (14 January 2016), Saint Kitts and Nevis (9 December 2015), Palau (30 November 2015), Somalia (9 November 2015), Costa Rica (4 December 2015) and Mauritius (31 August 2015).

Canada, France, Russia, Indonesia, Ghana, Peru and Brazil should expedite the ratification process so that the PSMA will come into effect as soon as possible.

FAO (2016) Status of the Port State Measures Agreement, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, 14 January 2016.