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US establishes marine mammal bycatch criteria

US establishes marine mammal bycatch criteria

16 Aug 2016

US trade partners will need to show that killing or injuring marine mammals in their export fisheries do not exceed US standards

US trade partners will need to show that killing or injuring marine mammals incidental to fishing activities in their export fisheries do not exceed US standards

NOAA Fisheries has published a final rule which confirms that nations exporting fish and fish products to the United States must meet fishing standards for protecting marine mammals that are equal to those American fishermen follow.

US trade partners will need to show that killing or injuring marine mammals incidental to fishing activities, or bycatch, in their export fisheries do not exceed US standards.

“Fishing gear entanglements or accidental catch is a global threat to marine mammal populations,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries. “Establishing these bycatch criteria marks a significant step forward in the global conservation of marine mammals.”

The rule implements Marine Mammal Protection Act requirements, outlines ways to evaluate a nation’s marine mammal bycatch reduction efforts, and sets procedures a nation must follow to receive authorisation for sending their products into the United States. NOAA Fisheries will consult with harvesting nations and, to the extent possible, work with nations to build their capacity to meet the rule’s standards.

The rule takes effect on 1 January and establishes a one-time-only, initial five-year exemption period to give nations time to assess their marine mammal stocks, and estimate and lower their bycatch.

Over time, NOAA Fisheries expects the rule to help safeguard the US seafood supply from products harvested unsustainably, without greatly limiting consumers’ seafood choices.

“NOAA carefully considered potential impacts of a fishery being unable to obtain certification under this rule, and we’re confident the seafood supply chain is adequately robust to prevent any disruption to consumer access,” said John Henderschedt, director of NOAA Fisheries Office of International Affairs and Seafood Inspection. “At the same time, NOAA intends to work closely with US trading partners to ensure that their fisheries are capable of achieving certification.”

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Source: worldfishing