October 22, 2015

Senate Passes Legislation to Combat Pirate Fishing

Sen. Whitehouse Negotiated Passage with Lead Opponent on Senate Floor; Bill will Now Become Law

Washington, DC – Last night the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing Enforcement Act of 2015.  The bill, which implements the policies of a treaty that was first approved by the Senate last year, increases enforcement capabilities for a number of international fishery agreements that combat IUU (or pirate) fishing, to protect fisheries across the entire United States.  It was supported by U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and his fellow co-chairs of the Senate Oceans Caucus, who were also the lead proponents of the related treaty last year.

The legislation nearly passed the Senate by unanimous consent in July, but was blocked by an objection from Senator David Vitter (R-LA).  Yesterday evening as Senator Vitter attempted to pass one of his bills by unanimous consent, Senator Whitehouse reached an agreement with Vitter which allowed both bills to move forward.

“Pirate fishing puts fishermen and processors who play by the rules at a disadvantage,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “It’s a local problem, because pirate fishing in foreign countries and on the high seas jeopardizes migratory fish stocks that our fishermen rely on, and pirate fishing brings down the prices we get.  This legislation will help American fishermen by holding foreign governments accountable to enforce rules against illegal fishing.”

Each year illegal fishing produces between 11 and 26 million tons of seafood, resulting in economic losses with a global value of between $10 and $23 billion.  According to a 2014 report by the Marine Conservation Institute, Rhode Island may have lost as much as $24 million in revenue and lost as many as 400 jobs due to IUU fishing.

The IUU Fishing Enforcement Act of 2015 has already been passed by the House of Representatives.  It will now go to the President to be signed into law.


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Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921