U.S. Seafood Traceability as Food Law and the Future of Marine Fisheries

Anastasia Telesetsky, University of Idaho College of Law

While the global seafood business is valued at approximately $148 billion, many commercial fishing stocks are struggling to recover. Large seafood-importing States such as the United States should avoid fish that have been illegally captured or that are harvested using poor environmental practices, such as not reporting discards associated with the harvest. Traceabilty is a critical component of food law: to inform consumers not just of the origin of the food but also of the transit of a food through a complex supply chain. The United States has recently adopted a new rule on traceability designed to combat illegal fishing imports. As this Article suggests, the federal rule, as drafted, will be unlikely to change much in industry practice without additional targeted investments in traceability, including better implementation of wildlife crime whistleblower statutes, a more comprehensive set of environmental reporting standards for seafood sold in the United States or transiting through the United States, and additional support for the industry to better manage fishery-related processing waste.