The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) contains provisions to address the incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals in both domestic and foreign commercial fisheries. With respect to foreign fisheries, section 101(a)(2) of the MMPA states that the Secretary of the Treasury shall ban the importation of commercial fish or products from fish which have been caught with commercial fishing technology which results in the incidental kill or incidental serious injury of ocean mammals in excess of United States standards. In August 2016, NOAA Fisheries Service issued a final rule implementing these import provisions of the MMPA. In March 2018, NOAA Fisheries published the Final List of Foreign Fisheries under this rule. More information on the rule and the published List of Foreign Fisheries are available online at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/foreign/international-affairs/list-foreign-fisheries.
The new rule requires nations exporting fish and fish products to the United States to be held to the same standards as U.S. commercial fishing operations. It establishes the criteria for evaluating a harvesting nation’s regulatory program for reducing marine mammal bycatch and the procedures required to receive authorization to import fish and fish products into the United States. To ensure effective implementation, the rule establishes a 5 year exemption period to allow foreign harvesting nations time to develop, as appropriate, regulatory programs comparable in effectiveness to U.S. programs. By 2022, all seafood product from fisheries seeking export to the U.S. is required to have received a comparability finding that the fisheries’ marine mammal protection standards are comparable in effectiveness to U.S. programs.
More information on NMFS’ marine mammal protection efforts is available online at: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/topic/marine-mammal-protection.
The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) contains provisions to address the incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals in both domestic and foreign commercial fisheries.