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International Fisheries Stewardship and Enforcement Act, S. 269

The International Fisheries Stewardship and Enforcement Act (IFSEA; S. 269) complements other legislation, such as S.267, to help eliminate illegal fishing.

It was introduced on February 11, 2013 by Sen. Jay Rockefeller IV (D-WV) and has 10 co-sponsors: Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mark Begich (D-AK), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA).

IFSEA seeks to streamline and strengthen enforcement capabilities to identify and apprehend foreign illegal fishing operators and aims to help Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs) achieve sustainable quotas.

This legislation would:

  • Increase collaboration between agencies enforcing IUU fishing;
  • Establish an IUU vessel list and bring action against those vessels; and
  • Establish consistent and streamlined enforcement protocols in U.S. law pertaining to international fisheries.

S. 269 goes hand in hand with S.267, the Pirate Fishing Elimination Act, and the UN FAO Port State Measures Agreement. Follow links on each piece of legislation for more FishWise IUU policy blogs.

To learn more about S.269, see this excellent fact sheet by our colleagues at Pew Charitable Trusts.

UN FAO Port State Measures Agreement

The Leaders

First, let’s begin with a big high-five to Sri Lanka, Myanmar (Burma), Norway, Chile, and the EU which have ratified or approved this agreement (FAO, 2012).

Now let’s review why this is an important piece of legislation at the United Nations:

Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported (IUU) Fishing is a serious problem. Estimates of fishing losses to illegal activity range from $10-23.5 billion, representing 11-26 million tons of seafood (Agnew et al. 2009). Some countries suffer greatly (40% of West Africa’s total catches may be illegal) and, in others, illegal fishing may double the documented harvest numbers (Agnew et al. 2009). Furthermore, developing countries often bear the brunt of IUU fishing through lost revenue, decreased food security, and loss of biodiversity (FAO, 2012).

The Port State Measures Agreement, or PSMA, seeks to make it harder to land illegal product. Countries that ratify the treaty must: 1) designate ports through which foreign fishing vessels may enter; 2) conduct dockside inspections following set standards; 3) block entry to vessels known or believed to have been involved in IUU or those on an IUU vessel list of a Regional Fishery Management Organization (RFMO); and 4) share information with the governments of vessels with IUU product, when discovered during inspection.

What about the United States?

The U.S. has signed, but not yet ratified the treaty. President Obama sent the Agreement to the Senate in the U.S. for ratification on November 14, 2011 (US Department of State, 2011) and it has been referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. The Pirate Fishing Elimination Act (PFEA; S. 267) seeks to implement the PSMA to help eliminate illegal fishing, and was reintroduced to the Senate on February 11, 2013 (see our PFEA blog for more details).

Next Steps

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) approved the PSMA to ‘Prevent, Deter and Eliminate IUU Fishing’ on November 22, 2009. This treaty will go into effect once 25 countries have ratified the Agreement. It will likely take a few more years to have enough countries ratify the Agreement to move the PSMA forward to implementation.

While the PSMA is still awaiting ratification by 20 more countries, progress in some countries has been made to support implementation of the Agreement. For example, in April 2012, a global series of capacity-development workshops to support implementation of the Agreement was launched in Thailand, to cater to countries from Southeast Asia (FAO, 2012), a toolkit has been developed that outlines how to conduct a needs assessment (PSMA Toolkit), and work is being done to compare current RFMO traceability requirements against those of the PSMA (e.g. Pew, Closing the Gap, 2011).

FishWise will continue to monitor progress of the PSMA and let our retail and NGO partners, along with the public, know how they can help encourage the process.

Pirate Fishing Elimination Act, S. 267

The Pirate Fishing Elimination Act (PFEA; S. 267) seeks to implement the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) to help eliminate illegal fishing.

It was introduced on February 11, 2013 by Sen. Jay Rockefeller IV (D-WV) and has 9 co-sponsors: Mark Begich (D-AK), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

How does S.267 help to combat illegal fishing?

  • Passing S. 267 would reinforce U.S. authority to prevent vessels involved in illegal fishing from entering U.S. ports, thereby denying their illegal product from entering the U.S. market.
  • It would also require foreign fishing vessels to submit notice before arrival at American ports (currently, a loophole exists that has created an exemption for some vessels). 


S. 267 goes hand in hand with ratification of the Port State Measures Agreement. To learn more about ratification of PSMA, follow this link to our PSMA blog.

To learn more about S.267, see this excellent fact sheet by our colleagues at Pew Charitable Trusts.

Congratulations to FishWise Partners Safeway and Target!

Fishwise is proud to announce that two of our retailer partners have been placed on the Ethisphere Institutes “World’s Most Ethical Companies” list for 2013. Target and Safeway, Inc are working with FishWise on developing and implementing effective seafood sustainability policies, and both have the goal for all of their fresh and frozen seafood to come from responsible and traceable sources by 2015. The Ethisphere Institute, a think tank, commends and advances best actors in the realms of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), sustainability, anti-corruption and business ethics.

Chosen from thousands of companies worldwide, Safeway was selected for the third time for taking direct action regarding sustainability and corporate responsibility, instead of making statements with little follow-through. Safeway’s business practices are based on the four pillars that make up the “Heart of Safeway” model: People, Products, Community, and Planet. The confluence of these four ideals allows them to best serve their customer while promoting sustainability for the future. In addition, Safeway has gone above and beyond the bare minimums for compliance – taking charge in introducing and implementing best practices for the retail seafood industry. Aside from being placed on the Most Ethical Companies list for the third time, Safeway has received many other accolades for their business practices: in 2011 and 2012 they placed 1st on the Greenpeace Seafood Retailer Scorecard, and they have made repeated appearances on the DOW Jones Sustainability Index, Green Rankings (Newsweek), and the Carbon Disclosure Project.

Target, on the Ethisphere list for the seventh time, placed highly on the Greenpeace Seafood Retailer Scorecard last year and has also found itself on Fortune’s “Most Admired Companies” list, DiversityIncs’ “Top 50 Companies for Diversity” list, and Corporate Responsibility’s “100 Best Corporate Citizens” list.

FishWise could not be more proud to assist companies such as these who are dedicated to paving the way towards a sustainable future – keep up the good work!

Safety and Fraud Enforcement for Seafood Act

On March 6, 2013, Edward Markey (D-MA) introduced a bill in the House of Representatives (HR 1012) to combat seafood mislabeling. The Safety and Fraud Enforcement for Seafood Act, or SAFE Act, seeks to:

  • Require that detailed information accompany seafood through the supply chain to the point of sale, including scientific name, geographic catch area, date of catch, and catch method (this information must be available upon request by customers or government representatives)
  • Improve the FDA list of standardized names for seafood
  • Authorize import refusal of suspected or known violators (of seafood mislabeling)
  • Improve inter-agency cooperation
  • Track perpetrators of seafood fraud

This bill follows recent studies by Oceana and others on seafood fraud in the US retail market. Follow these links for a summary of the bill and a recent seafood source story on the SAFE Act. Co-sponsors include Walter Jones (R-NC), John Tierney (D-MA), Bill Keating (D-MA), Lois Capps (D-CA) and Jo Bonner (R-AL), Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam), Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands), Theodore Deutch (D-FL), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Eleanor Norton (D-DC), Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Sam Farr (D-CA), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Charles Rangel (D-NY), and Jackie Speier (D-CA).

Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) introduced companion legislation in the senate, S. 520, on March 11, 2013. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is a co-sponsor.

FishWise will track progress, support and opposition these bills and provide updates as they become available.