On November 21, countries across the globe will celebrate World Fisheries Day—a day recognizing the integral role fisheries have in sustaining human lives and ensuring healthy ocean ecosystems.
World Fisheries Day, observed annually on November 21, serves as a poignant reminder of global fisheries’ significance and the individuals who dedicate their lives to this industry. It honors the dedication of fishermen and women who endure harsh conditions and long working days at sea, whether for commercial or subsistence purposes. This observance also highlights the challenges facing the world’s fisheries and underscores the need for responsible management and sustainability.
The United States, as one of the largest seafood-consuming and fishing nations, actively engages in global management to ensure the safety, legality, and sustainability of imported seafood. NOAA Fisheries collaborates with other nations through bilateral and multilateral agreements, working with international fisheries organizations to promote sound management and conservation of global fisheries resources. These efforts align with U.S. domestic fisheries policy and bolster confidence in U.S. seafood both domestically and internationally. World Fisheries Day serves as a platform to celebrate these endeavors, address the challenges, and renew our commitment to preserving our oceans for future generations.
Addressing Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing
Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices pose a grave threat to our oceans, economies, and global food security, impacting law-abiding fishermen and seafood producers. These activities occur at various stages of the international seafood supply chain and demand a multifaceted response.
NOAA Fisheries leads the United States in addressing international fishing activities. We identify nations engaged in IUU fishing in a biennial Report to Congress and work with them during a 2-year consultation period to ensure appropriate actions are taken to address the issues for which they were identified. In 2023, NOAA identified seven nations and entities engaged in IUU fishing. Our report emphasizes the critical need for coordinated action to protect ocean ecosystems and ensure the sustainability of fisheries. For the first time in 2023, we identified nations for shark catch and considered forced labor in our IUU fishing identifications.
Additionally, NOAA Fisheries works with other partner agencies to execute a comprehensive approach to counter IUU fishing and maritime security threats. The U.S. Interagency Working Group on IUU Fishing, which consists of twenty-one federal agencies, including co-chairs, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Coast Guard, is focused on strengthening maritime security, enhancing fisheries management, and addressing IUU fishing through international collaboration.
Creating Legal and Safe Working Conditions in Fishing and Seafood Industries
In addition to combating IUU fishing, we founded and led the Collaborative Accelerator for Lawful Maritime Conditions in Seafood (CALM-CS) initiative. It seeks to establish legal and safe working conditions in the fishing and seafood industry, combating labor abuses such as forced labor. The 15-month initiative will end in February 2024. CALM-CS boasts a leadership and participant lineup that includes individuals from civil society, industry, and government sectors, spanning both environmental and labor domains. Through this initiative, we are facilitating a range of tangible and practical outcomes, including the development of key elements for due diligence in supply chains and showcasing tools for fair and ethical recruitment practices for industry.
NOAA Fisheries also strengthens protections for fishing crew and observers globally. We lead efforts in international fisheries organizations and at the United Nations to develop and implement standards for decent work aboard fishing vessels. We will continue to work with bilateral partners and international organizations to ensure that seafood entering the United States is not produced with forced labor or other illegal labor practices.
International Fisheries Trade
We are conducting a program review of our Seafood Import Monitoring Program to enhance and strengthen the
program’s overall impact and effectiveness. As part of the review, we will engage with and seek broad input from stakeholders. We are committed to ensuring that the program is a robust tool to combat IUU fishing and help maintain the integrity of U.S. seafood imports.
NOAA Fisheries’ efforts to combat IUU fishing and work towards sustainable global fisheries benefit the entire seafood sector, from producers and harvesters to brokers and exporters. Our efforts also benefit fisheries resources and protected marine species globally while helping to ensure U.S. seafood is safe and responsibly harvested. It is critical that the United States take an active role in shaping the conservation and management regimes of international fisheries, and we are committed to doing so.