February 1, 2024
Washington, D.C. – Today, Representatives Scott Peters (D-CA-50) and Carlos Gimenez (R-FL-28) introduced bipartisan legislation to deter Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, especially by China, in Caribbean and Latin American waters. This problematic behavior damages marine ecosystems, undermines national economies, and threatens food security worldwide. This coercion threatens the national and economic security of the U.S. and its partners in the region, disrupts regional trade, and contradicts international norms and law. Reps. Peters’ and Gimenez’s bill, the Caribbean and Latin America Maritime Security Initiative Act, would provide new sanctions authorities and enhance cooperation between the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, and the maritime forces of countries in the Caribbean and Latin America, among other measures.
“Every day, San Diego benefits from a strong relationship with countries throughout Latin America and a vibrant commercial fishing industry that benefits from a well-regulated and rules-based marketplace,” said Rep Peters. “We must ensure our competition with China prioritizes America’s relationships with states in the Caribbean and Latin America to maintain our status as a leader in both regions and ensure China and other bad actors cannot threaten the ecosystems, food supply, political ties, and international trade system which benefits companies here in San Diego, the U.S., and nations throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.”
“Communist China continues to pillage our oceans and undermine the sovereignty of our neighbors and allies by pursuing Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in their territorial waters,” said Rep. Gimenez. “I’m proud to join Rep. Scott Peters in introducing the bipartisan Caribbean and Latin America Maritime Security Initiative Act to reinforce our commitment to our neighboring countries and protect our sensitive fisheries in South Florida and across the nation.”
“We appreciate the leadership of Reps. Peters and Gimenez in introducing legislation to combat the challenges of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Tom Cors, Senior Director of Legislative Affairs at The Nature Conservancy. “Left unchecked, this practice both threatens critical ecosystems and undermines national and regional efforts to conserve marine species in the region. Expanding the use of electronic monitoring and other technologies to verify compliance with fishery regulations is a critical step for supporting sustainable fisheries. We look forward to working with Congress as it considers this proposal.”
This bill will address IUU by:
- Providing first-of-their-kind authorities for the Department of Treasury to sanction individuals and entities engaging in IUU fishing.
- Enhancing cooperation between the United States Coast Guard, Navy, and related interagency partners with, and the maritime forces of countries in the Caribbean and Latin America;
- Fostering the participation and coordination of the United States Coast Guard and, where appropriate, the United States Navy and other relevant Federal departments and agencies, in regional organizations dedicated to coordination and cooperation in support of the fisheries policies that align with customary international law and United States standards, ocean conservation, maritime security, and related initiatives of the Caribbean and Latin America;
- Strengthening partner countries’ maritime domain awareness, fisheries management, and law enforcement activities needed to counter IUU fishing in their waters; and
- Documenting instances of private commercial entities or government-owned fishing vessels fishing without authorization within the exclusive economic zones of countries in the Caribbean and Latin America.
In October of 2023, Reps. Peters and Gimenez joined 12 of their bipartisan colleagues to ask the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to take immediate action against IUU.
Summary of the bill here.
Full bill text here.