National Fisheries Institute Statement on NOAA’s Report on Implementation of the Seafood Import Monitoring Program
WASHINGTON, DC May 21, 2021 — The National Fisheries Institute opposes any illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. We appreciate NOAA’s focus on ridding the globe of pirate fishing. We are pleased that today’s report on the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) highlights the fact that, “the majority of SIMP audits do not identify noncompliance,” and that of non-conformances “only a small number rise to the level that they warrant enforcement action.” NFI looks forward to working with NOAA to improve any information discrepancies found in entry filings.
We note that NOAA’s report clearly states, “SIMP does not prevent or stop IUU fish and fish products from entering U.S. commerce.”
In fact, NOAA highlights that, “most of the issues that have been found relate to issues apparent from the documents themselves (e.g., vessel permit dates do not match harvest dates, documents are missing).”
In the report NOAA Fisheries emphasizes it remains “focused on maintaining the risk-based nature of SIMP.” Calls for expanding SIMP to all species undercut this focus on risk.
The seafood community estimates it has spent over $50 million on SIMP regulatory and paperwork compliance for just the 13 species covered by the program, a burden on an industry working to feed Americans during a time of recovery. SIMP expansion would impose hundreds of millions of dollars of annual expense for a program that “does not prevent or stop IUU fish and fish products from entering U.S. commerce.”