The Biden-Harris Administration released a memorandum Monday calling for increased efforts to stop illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. In a statement to reporters, the administration specifically singled out China as a major violator, saying, “[t]he PRC [People’s Republic of China] is a leading contributor to IUU fishing worldwide, and it has impeded progress on the development of measures to combat IUU fishing and overfishing in international organizations.”
The memo raises concerns about forced labor in IUU fishing, saying:
The United States is committed to promoting labor rights and human rights and fundamental freedoms through worker-centered trade policies, and to working to eliminate abusive labor practices, in particular forced labor, in supply chains. Agencies shall enhance interagency coordination and the use of existing tools and authorities to address the challenge of forced labor in the seafood supply chain.
State Department Spokesperson Ned Price celebrated the memo, saying, “Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing is one of the greatest threats to our ocean. The United States will use the full range of existing conservation, labor, diplomatic, law enforcement, and national security authorities to address challenges associated with #IUUfishing.”
Chinese state media outlet, Global News, rejected the insinuation that China is a major contributor to IUU fishing and claimed the move was actually related to recent diplomatic tension in the Solomon Islands, saying, “[t]he US is worried about Chinese ships coming ashore, connecting normal fishing operations to building a military base. This is out of a Cold War mentality, demonizing normal economic activities, turning normal fishery cooperation into a security concern.”
The announcement is part of the administration’s Ocean Month initiatives, which also include “initiating the designation process for a new national marine sanctuary to conserve Hudson Canyon in the Atlantic Ocean, a phase out of the sale of single-use plastics in national parks and public lands, the launch of efforts to create America’s first-ever Ocean Climate Action Plan, and the launch of an initiative to center environmental justice in ocean science and technology activities and investments.”