The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said yesterday (March 5, 2014) that it was seeking input from all parties in an effort to identify countries involved in illegal fishing. U.S. law requires the Department of Commerce to report every two years on the identities of those countries engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and in fishing practices such a bycatch that could undermine the sustainability of living marine resources. A third focus was recently added to the scrutiny — directed and incidental catch of sharks, especially the practice of finning, in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
The 2011 version of this report identified six countries has having engaged in IUU fishing during the preceding two years: Colombia, Ecuador, Italy, Panama, Portugal and Venezuela. The 2013 report identified 10 countries: Colombia, Ecuador, Ghana, Italy, Mexico, Panama, the Republic of Korea (“South Korea”), Spain, Tanzania, and Venezuela.
One country, Mexico, was also identified for Protected Living Marine Resource (PLMR) bycatch violations. Investigators believe Mexican fishing vessels were responsible for a massive stranding of 438 loggerhead sea turtles and that even these numbers probably represented only a portion of the total number of turtles killed, since many more probably drowned at sea.
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