Stop Importing Illegally Caught Fish


Target: Michael Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Goal: Stop importing seafood from Belize, Cambodia, and Guinea

Environmental issues are becoming more and more relevant by the day. Even with everything we know about the causes of these issues, there’s more being found out everyday. One issue that doesn’t immediately come to mind when trying to take action is what is happening under water. Marine environments are being destroyed and marine life is at an all time low. There is currently over two-thousand marine species listed as at risk of becoming extinct. Although there is many causes for aquatic destruction, one of the biggest is illegal fishing.

Illegal fishing is when fishing vessels don’t abide by the fishery laws. This can occur through fisherman not reporting their catchings, not using safe techniques or not operating under legal fishing practices. A good deal of illegal fishing is happening in far off countries where there is not strong enforcement of proper practices or surveillance of fisherman and their practices, specifically Belize, Cambodia, and Guinea.

The ignorance of proper practices in these countries is having severe effects on the sustainability of the underwater ecosystem. One major contributor to destruction of the aquatic environment is through bykill. Bykill is described as wasted catch and is the result of huge fishing nets being pulled underwater to catch fish for selling. However these nets are catching more than what they are intended for. Other marine life gets into the nets, including sharks, sea turtles, or fish that aren’t desirable for selling. These are animals that are already threatened by extinction being caught and killed for no use. Illegal fishing is also altering the data we have on marine life. Unreported catchings are making a huge dent in ocean population and we have no idea if our estimations and counts are correct because of the ignorance of illegal fisherman who don’t reporting their catchings.

In March of 2014, the European Union noticed countries where these illegal practices were more prevalent. They specifically took note of Belize, Cambodia, and Guinea. They banned imports from these countries and cut off their trades, however the U.S. still imports from these countries and is, in turn, supporting these disastrous practices. Supporting trade with these countries is not only having horrid effects on the environment, it’s hurting the global economy. Ocean conservation group Oceana estimated up to twenty-three billion dollars in loss worldwide through illegal fishing. Sign this petition to urge the U.S. to follow in the footsteps of Europe and stop importing from Belize, Cambodia, and Guinea. Supporting these countries systems of fishing is in turn giving them permission to continue their catastrophic behavior and we should not stand for it.


Dear Michael Taylor,

With new information coming out daily on threats to the environment there is a constant search for ways to conserve and protect our Earth. Whenever we come in contact with the Earth’s ecosystems we need to make sure our actions are helping it, not hurting it. Over two thousand oceanic species are currently under threat of extinction and we need to take as many precautions as possible to reverse our damage and make sure our actions aren’t destructive but productive. Unfortunately practices of illegal fishing abroad are leaving lasting negative effects on marine life. Not only are these fisherman’s neglect of the law being allowed, we’re supporting them by importing their product.

There’s more than one way these horrendous practices are hurting us. Financially, it’s causing substantial losses. Ocean conservation group Oceana predicts up to twenty-three billion dollars are lost on illegal fishing acts alone. Although illegal fishing is practiced worldwide, there’s been immense research proving a lot of focus on Belize, Cambodia, and Guinea. The European Union took note of this and banned imports from these countries, however the U.S. is still actively working with these countries and importing their seafood. An estimated one third of the fish we eat is caught illegally and we cannot stand for this injustice. It’s unfair to us, to marine life, and to the Earth as a whole.

I urge you to take action on these horrendous operations and ban trade with these countries. Doing so will send a strong message to these countries and cut off a major source of income in their export industry, potentially forcing them to crack down on fishing operations and ensure only legal fishing is being supported. It gives fisherman that practice proper methods and work legally a fair playing field to sell their product and helps promote food security as well as cutting out a destructive part of our food industry as a whole.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Captain Robert A. Pawlowski

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