Global efforts to advance fishery conservation and to combat IUU fishing and the use of forced and child labor in the seafood supply chain took a major step forward yesterday when the House Committee on Natural Resources passed by a voice-vote, HR 3075: the Illegal Fishing and Forced Labor Prevention Act. The bipartisan bill was introduced on May 11, 2021, by Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Congressman Garret Graves (R-LA).
Southern Shrimp Alliance Executive Director John Williams had this to say about the bipartisan legislation: “Opportunities are rare as hens teeth for Congress to expand the reach of the United States’ high standards for human rights and marine conservation globally while at the same time protecting American workers and families forced to compete with illegal imports and enabling U.S seafood consumers to avoid becoming unwitting contributors to these abhorrent practices through their restaurant and retail purchases. This is what the Southern Shrimp Alliance is all about and we are very proud to support this extraordinary legislation.”
Central to the purposes and objectives of this legislation are preventing the entry into the U.S. market and the sale to U.S consumers of seafood harvested or processed using forced labor, or otherwise caught in illegal fisheries or those using substandard fishery bycatch conservation practices. Consistent with successful enforcement reforms adopted by Congress to address trade fraud, rather than focusing on post-importation enforcement, the bipartisan bill augments traceability requirements that ensure that IUU seafood does not enter the U.S. market.
The legislation includes a broad range of measures including those that would expand and strengthen the Seafood Import Monitoring Program and other U.S. trade enforcement authorities. Importantly, this includes expanding the definition of IUU fishing to include illegal forced labor practices. Together, these measures would substantially enhance the ability of federal agencies to trace the origin and methods of production of seafood and to detect any illegal or fraudulent activities throughout the U.S. supply chain – from the points of harvesting and processing – to entry into the U.S. market – and on to the point of sale to U.S. consumers.
Williams added: “IUU fishing, forced labor and fishery bycatch conservation are highly complex issues facing the global seafood supply chain for which effective policies and practical solutions are not easy to develop. We want to congratulate Reps. Huffman and Graves for appreciating that the emphasis must be on preventing the importation of goods that violate U.S. laws, for putting American fishermen first, and for their courage to stand up to those that would put their profits ahead of ending the use of forced labor and eliminating illegal seafood from the U.S. marketplace once and for all.”
The Southern Shrimp Alliance along with other commercial and recreational fishing organizations as well as human rights and marine conservation organizations expressed strong support when Congressmen Huffman (D-CA) and Graves (R-LA) introduced the legislation.
Rep. Garret Graves press release: https://garretgraves.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/graves-introduces-legislation-strengthen-louisiana-s-seafood-industry
Rep. Jared Huffman’s press release: https://huffman.house.gov/media-center/in-the-news/house-bill-targets-illegal-fishing-seafood-trade-slavery
Further, Southern Shrimp Alliance had the privilege to testify in strong support of H.R. 3075 before the House Committee on Natural Resources at its hearing on July 29, 2021. See here for the testimony of Nathan Rickard, Esq., Trade Counsel:
|About the Southern Shrimp Alliance|
|The Southern Shrimp Alliance (SSA) is an organization of shrimp fishermen, shrimp processors, and other members of the domestic industry in the eight warmwater shrimp producing states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas.|