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    Stewardship Tips: IUU

    By Anna | August 14, 2014

    Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing can have a significant impact on a fishery.

    In order to evade limits, seasons, and regulations, boats will register with, and fly the flag of, a state that is not a party to international agreements.  Fishing under these flags of convenience, IUU fishers have been know to enter waters illegally, fill their holds with excessive numbers of fish, and fish with tackle that damages local ecosystems.  The ultimate problem with IUU fishing is undocumented over-exploitation of a resource.

    Know the source: to combat IUU fishing, the Marine Stewardship Council is certifying a growing number of fisheries, supply chains, and restaurants.  The MSC uses rigorous methods to certify that a fishery is sustainable.

    Seafood that comes from a certified fishery will display the MSC label.   This label provides assurance to the consumer that the product came from a sustainable resource.  If your grocer does not stock MSC certified seafood, let her or him know that sustainable fisheries not only provide jobs now and in the future, it also means that we will have sport fishing opportunities for many generations.

    Why it is important to the fish:  IUU fishing is not unique to the high seas.  It can come home to roost on local fisheries.  The Interstate Watershed Task Force recently completed a multi-year, multi-jurisdictional investigation within the Chesapeake Bay.  The investigation resulted in over $1.6 million dollars in fines levied against 19 individuals and 3 corporations for more than one million pounds of illegally harvested striped bass.

    When a fishery is over-exploited, it can be rendered unproductive.  Jobs, along with fish, disappear.  If a portion of the economy relies on sport fishing, those jobs disappear as well.

    Help to combat IUU, look for MSC certified seafood at your grocer; let your suppliers know that sustainable populations of fish are important to everybody.

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