Policy ForumMARINE CONSERVATION

U.S. seafood import restriction presents opportunity and risk

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Science  16 Dec 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6318, pp. 1372-1374
DOI: 10.1126/science.aai8222

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Summary

On 1 January 2017, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will enact a new rule (1) requiring countries exporting seafood to the United States to demonstrate that their fisheries comply with the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The United States is the world's largest seafood importer (2); the MMPA is among the world's strongest marine mammal protection laws; and most of the world's ∼125 marine mammal species are affected by fisheries bycatch (accidental entanglement in fishing gear) (3). This regulation could thus have significant conservation benefits, potentially spilling over to other areas of marine governance, if it is accompanied by substantial investments to boost scientific and compliance capacity in developing countries. Otherwise, it risks having little effect besides inflicting economic hardship on already poor communities.

  • * These authors contributed equally to this work.

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