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NMFS Publishes Draft List of Foreign Fisheries for Public Comment

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has published a draft List of Foreign Fisheries (LOFF) for comment, as required by 50 C.F.R. § 216.24(h) implementing the Fish and Fish Product Import Provisions Section 101(a)(2) of the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).

In August 2016, NMFS published the MMPA Import Provisions Rule, which established the criteria for evaluating a nation’s regulatory program for reducing marine mammal bycatch and the procedures required to receive authorization to import fish and fish products into the United States. The MMPA Import Provisions Rule aims to reduce marine mammal bycatch associated with international commercial fishing operations by requiring fish and fish products imported into the United States to be held to the same standards as U.S. commercial fishing operations.

About the List of Foreign Fisheries (LOFF)

An essential component in implementing the import provisions of the MMPA Import Provisions Rule is the List of Foreign Fisheries (LOFF). The LOFF lists foreign commercial fisheries that export fish and fish products to the United States and that have been classified as either “export” or “exempt” based on the frequency and likelihood of incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals.The entire list of these export and exempt fisheries, organized by nation (or subsidiary jurisdiction), constitutes the List of Foreign Fisheries.

By January 1, 2022, a harvesting nation must apply for and receive a comparability finding for each of its export and exempt fisheries on the LOFF to continue to export fish and fish products from those fisheries to the United States.

Developing the Draft List of Foreign Fisheries (LOFF)

The draft LOFF is comprised of 138 nations with 720 exempt and 3,270 export fisheries.To develop this list, NMFS reviewed and considered, when available, multiple sources of information, including documentation provided directly by the nations or subsidiary jurisdictions. Fisheries are classified, based on their frequency of marine mammal bycatch, as either “exempt” or “export” fisheries. Exempt fisheries are fisheries that have no known or a remote likelihood of marine mammal bycatch and are exempt from instituting a regulatory program. Export fisheries are those fisheries with more than a remote likelihood of marine mammal bycatch or insufficient information available on marine mammal interactions.

The draft LOFF is organized by harvesting nation and other defining factors including: geographic location of harvest, gear type, target species, or a combination thereof.  It also includes a list of the marine mammals that interact with each commercial fishing operation, where known, and, when available, indicates the level of incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals in each commercial fishing operation.

Public Engagement

NMFS encourages all interested parties, especially nations exporting fish and fish products to the United States to review and comment on the LOFF. NMFS will consider all comments and information received during the comment period in preparing a final LOFF. Submit public comment on draft LOFF here.

NMFS' Office of International Affairs and Seafood Inspection will also host  public webinar meetings to further engage with interested stakeholders about this notice. Dates to be posted.

Additional information