Huffman, Grijalva Co-Lead Bipartisan Letter Urging Whole-of-Government Approach to IUU Fishing, Forced Labor

March 11, 2024

WASHINGTON – Water, Wildlife and Fisheries Subcommittee Ranking Member Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) and  House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today sent a bipartisan letter signed by a total of 26 Members to President Joe Biden urging the administration to use its existing authorities, including the new authorities that Congress provided in the FY2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), to implement a whole-of-government approach to combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and forced labor in the seafood supply chain.

In their letter, the lawmakers commend the Biden administration’s commitment to addressing IUU fishing and forced labor through its 2022 National Security Memo (NSM-11). While some progress toward that commitment has been made, the letter urges the Biden administration to prompt key agencies, including the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to fully implement the directives outlined in NSM-11.

The letter also highlights the importance of traceability and transparency requirements, pointing to provisions passed by Congress in the FY23 NDAA to expand and improve NOAA’s Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP). As the lawmakers note, those provisions have yet to be implemented:

“Full expansion of SIMP and full implementation of the IUU-related provisions enacted in the NDAA in December 2022 will further position NOAA and its partner agencies to identify and address risky seafood imports. The challenge lies not in the effectiveness of catch documentation and traceability requirements but rather in their inconsistent application to all imports. The ineffectiveness of SIMP is due to its limited application, particularly concerning species coverage, and it is imperative to enhance its implementation and broaden its scope to encompass a wider array of species. The NDAA required NOAA and CBP to develop a strategy to improve data from SIMP no later than six months after enactment and required implementation of improved SIMP audit procedures within one year. We are unaware of any actions toward those requirements and urge NOAA and CBP to take all necessary steps to comply with those requirements immediately.”

For the full letter to President Biden, CLICK HERE.


Extensive recent reporting by Ian Urbina with the Ocean Outlaw Project highlights the pervasiveness of IUU fishing and forced labor practices across the global seafood supply chain, from fishing vessels to processing facilities, especially those operated by the People’s Republic of China. These human rights abuses and other IUU fishing practices pose major national security risks, geopolitical challenges, and environmental harm.

As the “largest single-nation seafood importer in the world,” U.S. consumers are highly exposed to seafood produced through forced labor. Insufficient supply chain regulations continue to enable U.S. importers to purchase seafood at artificially low prices, incentivizing actors further down the supply chain to seek harmful cost-cutting measures, often at the expense of the environment and workers’ rights.

By taking decisive action against IUU fishing, the U.S. can strengthen the resilience and sustainability of global fisheries while setting an international example in promoting labor and environmental rights. Such efforts are crucial for marine conservation, global food security, upholding human rights standards, and protecting vulnerable workers.