'Pirate fishing' a growing problem, study finds


An ocean conservation group is calling on the Obama administration to strengthen seafood regulations to protect against fraud, as a new study finds that as many as one-third of the fish imported into the U.S. market were caught illegally.

Oceana called for stronger fishing traceability requirements and border inspections that would help consumers track the fish they eat from "the boat of their plate." 

"What the U.S. is currently doing is not enough to keep illegal product out of the market, because as this study shows, there is a huge amount of illegal product that has gotten through," said Oceana's Ocean Advocate Beckie Zisser.

This comes as a new study that will be published in the journal Marine Policy finds that between 20 percent and 32 percent of the fish imported into the U.S. was caught by so-called "pirate" fishermen in areas where the fish are supposed to be protected. Not only is this bad for marine life, but it also places "honest" fisherman at a disadvantage for playing by the rules, Zisser said.

"Illegal fishing undercuts honest fishermen and seafood businesses that play by the rules, and the U.S. should not be incentivizing pirate fishers by creating a legal market for their products," Zisser said.

Oceana would like the Obama administration to require fishermen to document where, when and how they got the fish, so border officials can verify the information before it enters the U.S. Seafood fraud is a growing problem Oceana has been trying to crackdown on. 

"We need to track our seafood from boat to plate to protect the oceans, consumers and public health," Zisser said. 

Oceana has thrown its support behind the Safety and Fraud Enforcement for Seafood Act, introduced by then-Rep. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyOvernight Healthcare: GOP plan marks new phase in ObamaCare fight Overnight Healthcare: Dems trying to force Zika vote | White House tries to stall opioids bill for $$ | Free Lyft rides from ObamaCare Overnight Healthcare: New momentum to lift ban on gay men donating blood MORE (D-Mass.) in the House and Sen. Mark BegichMark BegichSenate GOP deeply concerned over Trump effect Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Unable to ban Internet gambling, lawmakers try for moratorium MORE (D-Ark.) in the Senate, which it says would do just that.