Biden's New Executive Order Proves Need for Strong Seafood Import Controls  - Oceana USA

Biden’s New Executive Order Proves Need for Strong Seafood Import Controls 

Press Release Date: December 22, 2023

Location: Washington, D.C.


Cory Gunkel, Megan Jordan | email:, | tel: Cory Gunkel, 202.868.4061

Oceana Campaign Director Dr. Max Valentine released the following statement in reaction to President Biden’s executive order to improve and expand a ban on the import of Russian seafood:  

“Today’s executive order recognizes the importance of tackling illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing head-on. Import controls are critical tools to help ensure U.S. dollars do not support illegal fishing and other illicit activity. All seafood imports should be required to come with catch documentation and traceability to ensure seafood sold in the U.S. is safe, legally caught, responsibly sourced, and honestly labeled.  

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently withdrew a proposal to expand the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP), which helps prevent products of illegal fishing, seafood fraud, and human rights abuses from ending up on our grocery shelves and dinner plates. NOAA should be strengthening and expanding SIMP to protect U.S. fishers and consumers who are undermined by IUU fishing.” 


A report by the International Trade Commission found that the United States imported $2.4 billion worth of seafood derived from illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in 2019. IUU fishing can include fishing without authorization, ignoring catch limits, operating in closed areas, targeting protected wildlife, and fishing with prohibited gear. These illicit activities can destroy important habitats, severely deplete fish populations, and threaten global food security. For illegal fishers, IUU fishing is a low-risk, high-reward activity, especially on the high seas where a fragmented legal framework and lack of effective enforcement allow it to thrive.   

Americans overwhelmingly support policies to end illegal fishing and seafood fraud, according to a  nationwide poll Oceana released in January 2021. Included among the key findings: 89% of voters agree that imported seafood should be held to the same standards as U.S. caught seafood. Additionally, 81% of voters say they support policies that prevent seafood from being sold in the U.S. that was caught using human trafficking and slave labor. Eighty-three percent of voters agree that all seafood should be traceable from the fishing boat to the dinner plate, and 77% support requirements for all fishing vessels to be publicly trackable. The findings show widespread bipartisan support for policies aimed at increasing transparency and seafood traceability.