SAFEGUARDS | Food NO. 008/17

On January 9, 2017, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) final rule establishing the seafood import monitoring program became effective. Released December 8, 2016, this final rule establishes, for certain seafood items, the reporting and recordkeeping requirements to prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated-caught seafood from entering the USA. This is the initial phase of a risk-based traceability program. The compliance date is January 1, 2018 for the priority species involved except for abalone and shrimp which compliance and the effective date will depend on the establishment of the domestic reporting and record keeping program [1].

Overview of the Program [2]

This program establishes permitting, data reporting and recordkeeping requirements for the importation of certain priority seafood products. The data collected will allow traceability from the point of entry to the point of harvest or production. This will help verify whether or not the priority seafood product was lawfully harvested or produced. This information will be collected in the International Trade Data System (ITDS). The importer of record will be required to keep records in regard to the chain of custody, from harvest to point of entry into the USA. This information will not be made available to the public.

Priority Seafood Product

  • Abalone
  • Atlantic Cod
  • Blue Crab (Atlantic)
  • Grouper
  • King Crab (red)
  • Mahi Mahi (Dolphinfish)
  • Pacific Cod
  • Red Snapper
  • Sea Cucumber
  • Sharks
  • Shrimp
  • Swordfish
  • Tunas: Albacore, Bigeye, Skipjack, Yellowfin, and Bluefin

Information to Be Collected [3]

Harvesting or Producing Operation – name and flag of harvesting vessel, evidence of authorization to fish (permit, license), vessel identification, fishing gear used, name of farm of aquaculture facility.

Seafood Product – species (scientific/market name), harvest date(s), product form(s) at time of landing with quantity and weight, area of capture or harvest, point of first landing and name of the company that fish was delivered to or that landed it.

Importer of Record – name, affiliation and contact information, NOAA trade permit number, chain of custody information, transshipment information, records on processing, re-processing and comingling.

What Does This Mean For The Food Industry?

The seafood industry must join the program to improve traceability and establish systematic record been found to be mislabeled, aptured or farnede and the location of these  keeping that includes species, the location and whether captured or farmed. These records will include those species that have previously been found to be mislabeled. To perform this monitoring, record keeping and possibly verification, additional expenses and personnel may be required. As this is only the first phase, depending on its outcome, the traceability requirements may become the norm in the industry for all seafood products.

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