More Than $1.3 Billion In Illegally-Caught Fish Enter The US Each Year

More than 20 per cent of wild-caught seafood imported into the US – a haul with a price tag of at least $1.3 billion – is likely to be illegal, according to a new study published in the journal Marine Policy.

This new estimate underscores the role of the US market in fueling the global trade of illegal fish, which is estimated at $23 billion, and the need for the US government to take proactive efforts to combat it.

“This study reinforces what the fishing industry, governments and conservationists have been saying for a long time: illegal fishing is a major global problem and threatens the long-term health of our oceans and the livelihoods they support,” said World Wildlife Fund (WWF) vice president for marine conservation, Michele Kuruc.

“While the very nature of illegal fishing makes it difficult to quantify, this research brings new attention to the immense scope and scale of the problem.”

Illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing (IUU) damages ecosystems, undermines livelihoods, and is often associated with other serious problems such as drug trafficking, human slavery, organized crime and maritime security. The global seafood supply chain is complex and often poorly regulated, enabling the origin and movements of illegal products to be concealed, making it more difficult for the fishing industry and consumers to ensure that products are legally caught.

“As one of the planet’s largest consumers of seafood, the US has an enormous impact on the global seafood trade and the obligation to drive international progress to stop illegally caught fish from entering it,” added Kuruc.