At the Maine Fishermen’s Forum, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Regional Administrator for the Greater Atlantic Regional Office John Bullard encouraged consumers to eat US-harvested seafood. “Whenever I get a chance,” Bullard told the audience at an open forum Friday, “I urge consumers to ask where the fish they’re buying or eating come from, and people should choose to eat fish that are managed under the Magnuson-Stevens Act because these are the toughest rules in the world.”
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act is the primary law governing marine fisheries management in the United States.
NMFS reports that up to 90 percent (the actual number is likely higher) of seafood consumed in the United States is imported, which is a concern given the amount of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in many parts of the world. As a recent major arrest of a New Bedford, Massachusetts fishing industry mogul shows, US fisheries are not immune to abuse, but Bullard maintained Friday that US “fishermen operate under the best management system in the world” with “the toughest rules.”
Tomorrow I’ll make the drive to Boston for the Seafood Expo North America (SENA16), where more than 1,000 exhibitors from over 40 countries will be introducing and selling nearly every type of fish, seafood, and seafood-related product or service to US buyers. It’s always a stark contrast traveling from the Maine Fishermen’s Forum to SENA given that the former event is so regionally focussed, while the latter event is about global markets.
While Bullard’s endorsement of US seafood played well to an audience of New England fishing industry advocates (even if many were still “mad as heck” at him over management decisions), it is likely we will hear National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officials in Boston also touting US seafood and the US’s influence on fisheries worldwide. In the Administration’s own words, NOAA is committed to “using all the tools at its disposal to ensure a level playing field for US fishermen, consumer confidence in safe and legal seafood, and sustainable fisheries management.”
I invite you to follow my coverage of SENA16 here at http://www.GoodCatchBlog.com, on Twitter (where I will use “#SENA16”) and on The Good Catch Blog Facebook page. If you have questions, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter (Twitter.com/RetTalbot), through Facebook or by commenting here on the blog.
See you in/from Boston!