Wicker, Markey Statement on Seafood Fraud Task Force Recommendations

December 16, 2014

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., today welcomed the release of the recommendations of the Presidential Task Force on Combatting Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud. The task force’s recommendations include several strategies to monitor and enforce illegal fishing practices, and work with companies to better protect consumers.

“Seafood fraud and illegal fishing cheat fishermen and consumers and put at risk the ocean’s bounty. Working together, we can protect U.S. fishermen from being torpedoed by fraudulent fish and give consumers confidence while navigating their seafood options,” said Senators Wicker and Markey. “We are happy to see that the Task Force is taking action to improve interagency coordination, enforcement, and traceability and is engaging stakeholders, including fishermen and other participants of the seafood industry in this process. We look forward to continuing our work with the seafood industry, the administration, and our colleagues to put in place the necessary tools to fight fraud and illegal fishing.”

In October, Wicker and Markey wrote Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, urging them and their Task Force to create a comprehensive framework that encourages interagency coordination and use of existing authority for enforcement, addresses catch documentation and traceability requirements, and provides consumers with important information about their seafood. The Senators also requested that the Task Force provide additional opportunities for stakeholders to comment on the Task Force’s recommendations.

Wicker and Markey wrote President Obama in January 2014 requesting that he direct federal agencies to better coordinate their efforts to fight seafood fraud. In June 2014, the White House announced the formation of the Presidential Task Force on Combatting Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud.

In 2012, then-Rep. Markey introduced his “SAFE Seafood Act” to crack down on foreign fish fraudsters, increase inspection regimes, and provide agencies with the resources to enforce laws that would protect American fishermen from fraud. Senator Wicker is a cosponsor of the Senate version of the “SAFE Seafood Act.”