The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has warned Vietnamese seafood processors, importers and exporters to fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, following a new rule that takes effect next year.
Heather Brandon, international fisheries and marine mammal specialist from the US (centre), answers questions about the Seafood Import Monitoring Program from local seafood exporters.
The warning was made during a seminar on the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) held on Wednesday in the city by NOAA and the Viet Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP).
Speaking at the seminar, Heather Brandon, international fisheries and marine mammal specialist from the US, said: “Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and seafood fraud threatens valuable natural resources that are critical to global food security, which puts law-abiding fishermen and seafood producers, here in the US and abroad, at a disadvantage.”
The Seafood Import Monitoring Programme (SIMP) establishes permitting, data reporting and record-keeping requirements for the import of certain priority fish and fish products that have been identified as being particularly vulnerable to IUU fishing or seafood fraud, she said.
Brandon said the SIMP applied to seafood entering the US from a foreign country. The importer of record will be required to keep records regarding the chain of custody of fish or fish products from harvest to the point of entry into the United States, she said.
The data collected will allow the priority species of seafood to be traced from the point of entry into the US back to the point of harvest or production to verify that it was lawfully harvested or produced, she said.
The collection of harvest and landing information for these priority seafood species will be accomplished through International Trade Data System reporting, she added.
The information collected under this programme is confidential, she said, adding that the rule also applied to re-imported products of priority species originally harvested in the US.
There are 13 priority species, including Atlantic cod, blue crab (Atlantic), dolphin fish (Mahi Mahi), grouper, king crab (red), Pacific cod, red snapper, sea cucumber, shark, shrimp, swordfish and albacore.
The mandatory compliance date is January 1, 2018 for most priority species listed in the regulation, with shrimp and abalone compliances phased in at a later date.
Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting, Truong Dinh Hoe, general secretary of VASEP, said the warning was an essential step in help prevent Vietnamese seafood from being banned from export to the US.
Hoe told the exporters that if they have any problems when applying the rule they can contact VASEP for help.
IUU fishing and seafood fraud jeopardises the health of fish stocks and distorts legal markets, negatively affecting consumer confidence, and unfairly competing in global markets with products of seafood producers who comply with fishery regulations.
As a major market for seafood consumption, the US has a responsibility to combat illegal practices that undermine the sustainability of our shared ocean resources.
NOAA and its US Government partner agencies are engaged in numerous efforts to engage internationally, enhance enforcement, strengthen partnerships, and establish seafood traceability.