Thirty-one percent of total fish caught globally, which is worth $34.4 billion annually, is done so illegally.
But, a new program is aiming to drastically decrease this percentage.
On January 1, the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) went live to stop the sale of black market fish in the U.S.
Now, fish entering the country must also have specific information about how it was caught.
“SIMP asks basic questions about seafood entering the U.S.: who caught it (vessel flag and registration info), what is it (specific species), when was it caught (dates of operation), where (jurisdiction of fishing location) and how it was caught (what type of gear or method was used,)?” writes the “Huffington Post.”
Thirteen species groups are now subjected to the questioning, including “abalone, Atlantic Cod, blue crab (Atlantic), dolphinfish (mahi mahi), grouper, king crab (red), Pacific cod, red snapper, sea cucumbers, sharks, shrimp, swordfish and tunas (albacore, bigeye, skipjack, yellowfin and bluefin).”
This may seem like a lot of the fish species out there, but the program only covers 40 percent of seafood imports. This is still a big push to address this problem.
The U.S. is the biggest buyer in the world of imported seafood, specifically 90 percent of fish sold is imported. Unfortunately, 86 percent of all imported seafood is at a high risk of illegal fishing. So U.S. businesses are contributing to the problem unknowingly because they could be buying illegal seafood products.
Although this program will help to reduce the sales of black market fish, there still needs to be more identification systems and audits done on fishing vessels to ensure they are fishing legally.
“Additional data should be required to more effectively verify fishing operations were legal – including requiring the use of unique vessel identifiers on all fishing vessels and the continued use of automatic identification systems (AIS) to confirm where fishing activities are claimed to have occurred, ensuring encroachments into protected areas or other jurisdictions have not happened,” writes the "Huffington Post.”
Learn more about the SIMP program at “Huffington Post.”