Sens. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, introduced, on Aug. 28, the Maritime Security and Fisheries Enforcement Act to promote a whole-of-government approach to counter illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing — or IUU fishing — and associated threats to maritime security.

IUU fishing poses a threat to the national security of the U.S. and to food security in key regions such as West Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia. Actors involved in IUU fishing have been known to conduct other illicit activities such as weapons, drugs and human trafficking.

“IUU fishing is an issue that not only poses a serious threat to our own national security, but also contributes to instability in regions important to U.S. interests,” said Coons. “This legislation allows the U.S. to combat a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that undercuts the economic livelihoods of legitimate fishermen and threatens food security for communities around the world. By establishing an interagency working group and allowing federal agencies to improve law enforcement, develop a system for sharing information and coordinate regional, national and local action in countries affected by IUU fishing, this bill provides the U.S. with the requisite tools to address this important issue.”

The bipartisan Maritime SAFE Act establishes an interagency working group to provide federal agencies with a coordinated framework to effectively combat IUU fishing and authorizes a range of agency activities, including capacity building for law enforcement and port security, improving transparency and traceability in the seafood supply chain, promoting the use of technology to combat IUU fishing and better information sharing among agencies and other organizations.