Press Release

Stimson Convenes Panel on the Hill on IUU Fishing and Security

in Program
From left to right: VADM (ret) Michael T. Franken, RADM Meredith L. Austin, Dr. David Veal, Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), and Sally Yozell.
Photo courtesy of Oceans Caucus Foundation


For Immediate Release
September 12, 2018
Contact: Lillian Mercho, [email protected], 202-478-3409

Washington, DC —Today, the Stimson Center and the Oceans Caucus Foundation co-hosted a panel briefing on Capitol Hill on the security implications of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The panelists included RADM Meredith L. Austin, the Coast Guard Deputy for Operations, Policy, and Capabilities; VADM Michael T. Franken (ret.) from the Navy who recently joined Stimson as a Distinguished Fellow; and, Dr. David Veal, the Executive Director of the American Shrimp Processors Association.

Panelists spoke about the varied security impacts of IUU fishing from its national security implications to its impact on the economic and food security of communities, both in the U.S. and around the world, that rely on fisheries for revenue, jobs, and food.

“Traditionally viewed as an environmental and conservation challenge, IUU fishing is a risk that threatens national security, economic security, as well as food and environmental security. IUU fishing also contributes to lawlessness out at sea and breeds the opportunity for slave labor and human trafficking.” said Director of Stimson’s Environmental Security Program, Sally Yozell, who moderated today’s panel.

The panel also discussed paths to combatting IUU fishing and how the bipartisan Maritime SAFE Act, introduced by Senator Coons and Senator Wicker, takes steps towards addressing this issue. Senator Coons attended the panel briefing and spoke about the impact of IUU fishing and the paths that the Maritime SAFE Act lays out to strengthen the US government’s ability to combat IUU fishing with our international partners.

The Maritime SAFE Act creates a whole-of-government approach to tackling IUU fishing, which will allow U.S. government agencies to coordinate and better respond to this issue. The Maritime SAFE Act outlines pathways for the U.S. to work with our partners around the world who are affected by IUU fishing and to help build their capacity to enforce against it.

The Maritime SAFE Act also lays out possible paths towards expanding domestic traceability programs, such as the Seafood Import Monitoring Program, as market-based solutions to combatting IUU fishing.

The US imports roughly 80 percent of the seafood we consume, and one study estimated that 20 to 30 percent of the wild-caught seafood we import is illegally-caught or unreported.

“Traceability in the seafood supply chain helps us combat IUU fishing by preventing illegally-caught fish from entering our markets. It also ensures that seafood is not mislabeled or illegally traded. Expanding traceability programs to cover all species is essential to not only combat IUU fishing but to also level the playing field for law-abiding US fishers who have to compete with illegal seafood and fish products”, said Yozell said after the event.

In February 2018, the Stimson Center Environmental Security program released a report- Casting a Wider Net: The Security Implications of Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing. The report provides many recommendations on how the US and its partners can combat IUU fishing. Many of these recommendations, such as creating a whole-of-government approach, expanding traceability programs, and developing capacity-building measures to combat IUU fishing with partner nations, are incorporated into the Maritime SAFE Act.

“We at the Stimson Center are very excited to see the security impacts of IUU fishing being recognized on the Hill and discussed at panel briefings, like today’s, to educate Hill and agency staff on the importance of combatting this issue”, said Yozell.


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