US FINAL RULE TO IMPLEMENT A SEAFOOD IMPORT MONITORING PROGRAM / by Francisco Blaha

On December 8, 2016, NOAA Fisheries released the final rule establishing the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP).  The Program establishes, for imports of certain seafood products, the reporting and recordkeeping requirements needed to prevent illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU)-caught and/or misrepresented seafood from entering U.S. commerce, thereby providing additional protections for our national economy, global food security and the sustainability of our shared ocean resources.

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This is the first-phase of a risk-based traceability program—requiring the importer of record to provide and report key data—from the point of harvest to the point of entry into U.S. commerce—on an initial list of imported fish and fish products identified as particularly vulnerable to IUU fishing and/or seafood fraud.  

Overview of the Final Rule 

The final rule reflects the efforts to establish an effective program that minimizes the burden of compliance on industry while providing the necessary information to identify illegal and/or misrepresented seafood imports before they enter the U.S. market.

The Seafood Import Monitoring Program establishes permitting, data reporting and recordkeeping requirements for the importation of certain priority fish and fish products that have been identified as being particularly vulnerable to IUU fishing and/or seafood fraud.

The data collected will allow these priority species of seafood to be traced from the point of entry into U.S. commerce back to the point of harvest or production to verify whether it was lawfully harvested or produced.

The collection of catch and landing documentation for these priority seafood species will be accomplished through the International Trade Data System (ITDS), the U.S. government’s single data portal for all import and export reporting.  

The Seafood Import Monitoring Program is not a labeling program, nor is it consumer facing. In keeping with the Magnuson-Stevens Act authority (under which the regulatory program has been promulgated) and the strict information security of the ITDS--the information collected under this program is confidential.

The importer of record will be required to keep records regarding the chain of custody of the fish or fish product from harvest to point of entry into U.S. 

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

Implementation

January 1, 2018 is the mandatory compliance date for most priority species listed in the rule, with *shrimp and abalone compliance phased in at a later date. The effective date of this rule for all imported shrimp and abalone products – wild capture and aquaculture-raised - will be stayed until commensurate reporting and/or recordkeeping requirements have been established for domestic aquaculture-raised shrimp and abalone production.  

Just by reading this one see that the US has gone in a complete different path that the EU system, hence in principle we will have two masters asking for different things and saying “I don't care about the other one”, as we had when the market access requirements from the sanitary perspective were put in place.  I see this as an opportunity to strengthen the efforts towards a comprehensive eCDS, where the data streams are compiled and the full set of movements and transformation from a legal capture to final products are incorporated, then how you present this information to the final market becomes an "end function" and not a process driver.

sources: here