Seafood businesses must register exports to the USA ahead of new rules being enforced

Businesses exporting fish and fish products to the USA must provide certain information by Thursday 30 April 2020 to allow them to continue to export to the USA when new restrictions come into force.

Our guidance below explains the action your business must take if you export to the USA any items containing or derived from fish or fish product which has first been imported into the UK for processing. Please read it carefully and identify if you need to take action.

We understand that seafood businesses are facing immediate and unprecedented challenges but it is vital that businesses exporting seafood to the USA provide the information needed to ensure that future trade can continue as seamlessly as possible. 


Information on seafood origin details is required to satisfy new rules introduced by the USA’s Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). After an initial call for this information in August 2019, an opportunity has been granted for the UK to review and update this information. 

How do I provide the information?

Information should be provided via this online form by Thursday 30 April 2020. 

Data must be entered for each product (i.e. per commodity code) exported. 

What happens to the information?

We will collate the information and supply it to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs  (Defra) who will add it 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.

The privacy policies of organisations able to access the information you provide can be found within the submission link.

I provided this information in response to your previous call in August. Do I have to take any action?

If you previously completed our form and continue to export the same products, under the same commodity code, to the USA then you need take no further action

If you are now exporting new products, under different commodity codes, to the USA since August, you must complete the form for these additional products.

If you plan to export new products in the future, you should also complete the form for these products.

To check the information that your business previously provided email 

I am considering exporting fish or fish products to the USA in the future. Do I need to provide information?

Seafood businesses considering exporting to the USA in the future should consider completing the form to ensure that they will be able to trade when they wish to do so.

When will the next opportunity to provide/amend my information be? 

It is unclear how often new products can be added to the ‘List of Intermediary Nations and Products’ in future. Failure to act now could leave you unable to trade or create inaccuracies in the data the UK submits, which could create difficulties for trade with the USA in future.

Further information on the MMPA

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. 

When the UK exports fish or fish products to the USA for which it is only the processor and the fish in that product is harvested elsewhere, the UK is classified as an ‘intermediary nation’ for those products. The UK is therefore required to provide information on these fish or fish products in order to prevent any fish or fish product being imported into the USA which is subject to a prohibition.

Following the submission of the UK data in August 2019, NMFS has now published its draft List of Intermediary Nations and Products for 2020. NMFS are accepting revisions to this list until May 2020 and it is important that we ensure the information provided on behalf of the UK is comprehensive and up to date. The 2020 List will be the foundation for the UK’s comparability finding applications which will determine whether the MMPA import provisions apply to all of the fish products exported to the USA or only to a particular fishery or fisheries.

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’.