Do you export seafood to the USA?

14 August 2019  |  Regulation
All UK exporters of seafood to the USA must provide information on the origin of the fish and fish products they export by Monday 2 September 2019.

This is required to satisfy new trade rules introduced under the United States Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).

UK seafood exporters to the USA should complete this form to provide seafood origin details, which will allow Defra to add the information to the US Government's official ‘List of Intermediary Nations and Products’. This list sets out fish and fish products which are imported into a country for subsequent export to the USA. This list will allow the USA to identify and notify countries that may be importing and re-exporting fish and fishery products from a fishery that is subject to an import prohibition under these new trade rules.

Data must be entered into the form for each product (i.e. per commodity code) exported. Seafood businesses which may be considering exporting their products to the USA in the future are also recommended to complete the form. The data will be supplied to the US Government via Defra.

There are limited opportunities for the UK to amend the USA’s official ‘List of Intermediary Nations and Products’. Failure to provide the relevant information may lead to inaccuracies in the UK data which may therefore affect the acceptability of seafood exported from the UK to the USA in future.

What are the new trade restrictions?

The USA will place new restrictions on harvesting nations (i.e. the country under whose flag fishing vessels are documented) that have insufficient measures to protect marine mammals, or if the effectiveness of such measures falls below the effectiveness of those in place in the USA. The new restrictions are due to apply from 1 January 2022.

The United States Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) has been in place since 1972 but in 2016 the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published regulations amending the Act. The amendment requires a harvesting nation to have applied for and received a ‘comparability finding’ for each of its fisheries in order to legally export fish and fisheries products from that fishery to the USA. In this context, ‘fisheries’ are differentiated by target species, gear type and area of operation.

If the harvesting nation cannot demonstrate comparable effectiveness with the USA’s procedures on marine mammal mortality and injury in each of its fisheries, the comparability finding for that fishery could be denied or terminated and the import of such fish and fish products from that fishery prohibited.

The new rules also require countries which import fisheries products for re-export to the USA to register as an ‘intermediary nation’. This is why we are asking UK seafood exporters to provide information laid out above. The USA requires understanding of the origin of all processed (even if UK in origin) or ‘transhipped’ products to be able to accept products from ‘intermediary nations’.

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