New Rule Bans Seafood Imports That Don’t Meet U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Standards

Written by on January 14, 2015 in Fish, Marine Life, Policy & Ocean Law

Last week, the U.S. government agreed to adopt new rules that will require foreign fishing vessels to meet the same marine mammal protection standards required of U.S. fishermen. This will ensure that seafood imported into the country was not caught by killing whales or dolphins.

Dolphins still often get caught in tuna fishing nets. Photo credit: NOAA.

Dolphins still often get caught in tuna fishing nets. Photo credit: NOAA.

Every year, more than 650,000 marine mammals are caught and killed in fishing gear as bycatch (the unintentional or unwanted catch of other species) in commercial fisheries worldwide.

“The new regulations will force other countries to step up and meet U.S. conservation standards — saving hundreds of thousands of whales and dolphins from dying on hooks and in fishing nets around the world,” Sarah Uhlemann, senior attorney and international program director of the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) said in a news release. “The U.S. government has finally recognized that all seafood consumed in the United States must be ‘dolphin-safe.’ ”

The U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) has prohibited seafood from entering the country unless it meets U.S. whale and dolphin safety standards since 1972. To meet these standards and continue importing seafood to the U.S., some foreign fishers will need to modify their fishing gear or close areas that are known to have high levels of bycatch.

The new rule “provides real, enforceable protections for marine mammals and sets up an even playing field that allows our fishermen to be competitive in the U.S. market,” explained Zak Smith with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

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Copyright © 2015 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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