THE United States Government is moving to crack down in fish fraud and illegal fishing which it fears could eventually undermine public confidence in seafood.
The US departments of State and Commerce have jointly set up a presidential task force on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and on seafood fraud.
A statement from the departments said: ‘Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and seafood fraud have significant economic, environmental, health, and safety impacts worldwide.
‘In June of this year, the White House announced the creation of a Presidential Task Force on Combating IUU Fishing and Seafood Fraud to address these challenges.
‘Co-chaired by State Department Under Secretary, Catherine Novelli, and Commerce Department Under Secretary, Kathryn Sullivan, the task force has now held its first meeting.
The task force will engage stakeholders and the public in the coming months to provide recommendations for the implementation of a comprehensive framework to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud.’
It was less than six weeks ago that President Obama announced an initiative to tackle seafood fraud and illegal fishing in the United States.
The announcement was made at the global ‘Our Ocean’ conference hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry, who directed federal agencies to work together to develop a comprehensive program aimed at combating seafood fraud and keeping illegal fish out of the US market.
The move follows widespread exposure by the organisation Oceana, which found that 33 per cent of more than 1,200 seafood samples tested across several states were mislabelled.
Oceana said it had encouraged these federal agencies to act swiftly to stop seafood fraud and pirate fishing.