Sullivan, Whitehouse Introduce FISH Act to Fight Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated Seafood Harvest

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) today announced the introduction of the Fighting Foreign Illegal Seafood Harvest (FISH) Actto combat foreign illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The FISH Act will combat foreign IUU fishing by blacklisting offending vessels from U.S. ports and waters, bolstering the U.S. Coast Guard’s enforcement capabilities, and advancing international and bilateral negotiations to achieve enforceable agreements and treaties.

“Alaska is the superpower of seafood, the source of roughly two-thirds of all seafood harvested in the United States,” said Sen. Sullivan. “Our fishery’s extraordinary abundance is the result of responsible stewards who’ve sustainably managed this incredible resource and followed the rules. But not all vessels and countries abide by these rules, ravaging fish stocks without regard for other users or future generations—particularly the worst offender, China. My Save Our Seas Act partner, Senator Whitehouse, and I have assembled a package to tackle this threat to the sustainability of our oceans—by ratcheting up inspection and enforcement, raising the costs for the purveyors of illegal fishing, and working with other nations to eliminate any safe harbor for illegal fishermen and their backers. The FISH Act is an all-hands-on-deck effort to crack down on IUU fishing for the sake of our fish, our environment, and our coastal communities.” 

“Illegal pirate fishing puts Rhode Island’s fishermen and processors who play by the rules at a disadvantage. We have to root out this practice to protect our hardworking fishing industry and ocean economy,” said Senator Whitehouse, co-founder of the Senate Oceans Caucus.  “TheFISH Act, with my longtime Save Our Seas Act partner Senator Sullivan, is a comprehensive effort to curb IUU fishing and restore the fisheries that sustain our vibrant and healthy ocean.”

Among other provisions, the FISH Act

  1. Directs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to establish a black list of foreign vessels and owners that have engaged in IUU fishing.
  2. Directs the administration to address IUU fishing in any relevant international agreements.
  3. Directs the U.S. Coast Guard to increase its at-sea inspection of foreign vessels suspected of IUU fishing, and coordinate with regional fishery management organizations (RFMOs) to determine if a vessel’s flag state is taking corrective action.
  4. Directs the administration to report to Congress on how new technologies can aid in the fight against IUU fishing, the complexities of the seafood trade relationship between Russia and China, and the success of prosecutions against IUU fishermen operating in U.S. waters. 

Senators Sullivan and Whitehouse have worked together extensively on ocean sustainability issues, most notably on the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act, the most comprehensive legislation ever to address the global marine debris crisis, which became law in 2021.

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