NOAA Fisheries has stepped up measures to protect sharks from the lucrative shark fin trade. New regulations issued on January 16th to implement international provisions of the Shark Conservation Act of 2010 require the United States to identify nations whose fishing vessels catch sharks on the high seas but whose regulations are not up to the standard of those placed on U.S. fisheries.
Once identified, a consultation is triggered to encourage the offending nation to address the fishing activities of concern. After the consultation, the Secretary of Commerce issues either a positive or a negative certification depending on whether or not the nation has adequately addressed the problem.
A negative certification results in the U.S. prohibiting imports of certain fisheries products from that nation and the denial of port privileges for the nation’s vessels.
Through its rulemaking action, NOAA Fisheries also amended the definition of illegal, unreported, or unregulated (IUU) fishing to include violations of shark conservation measures, non-compliance with data reporting requirements, and fishing without authorization in U.S. waters, strengthening the ability of the United States to curtail unsustainable fishing activities.
“Holding other nations to the same standards imposed on U.S. fishermen not only levels the playing field, it significantly raises the bar for shark conservation efforts worldwide,” said Wild Oceans executive director Pam Lyons Gromen.
As the U.S. works to strengthen shark protections globally, it is also toughening domestic policy. The Shark Conservation Act requires U.S. fishermen to land sharks with their fins naturally attached. Regulations to implement domestic provisions of the Act are expected to be published later this year.