Good afternoon, everyone. I am pleased to join you all today as we formalize our partnership to address the critical issue of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.
I’d like to first thank Rear Admiral Gallaudet and our colleagues at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for partnering with us on such an important issue.
Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing poses an increasing threat to food security, livelihoods, economic development, and peace and security around the globe.
We know that wild fisheries are integral to a variety of development goals, and the sustainable management of these fisheries has serious implications for human well-being in many countries where we work. With weak management and illegal harvesting practices, the sustainability and benefits of wild fisheries are increasingly at risk. And these threats undermine both food security and legal economic opportunities.
For example, one of our USAID colleagues — who grew up in a fishing community in Ghana — has shared how healthy fish stocks in his community allowed his family to send him to school and, ultimately, a university. However, those same fish stocks are now estimated to be at 14 percent of their historical levels. Conflicts between distant water fleets and local fishers are making it very challenging to negotiate management measures that could restore those fish stocks.
That’s why USAID and NOAA have a crucial role in addressing the threats posed by IUU fishing. Our unique missions, expertise, investments, and resources will help us tackle these threats together.
Today, we are signing a five-year MOU to reinforce our collaboration to strengthen the sustainable management of fisheries, to improve monitoring and enforcement, and to develop alliances with industry and community partners.
This partnership between our agencies builds on our history of collaboration on the sustainable management of fisheries, in both programs and policy. For instance, USAID and NOAA work jointly to implement the Maritime Security and Fisheries Enforcement Act, which offers a whole-of-government approach to address IUU fishing. At the country level, as well, USAID and NOAA collaborate to address country-specific needs affecting the management of fisheries.
Under the framework of this global MOU, we are excited to deepen our collaboration with NOAA even further.
USAID is committed to promoting sustainable fisheries globally, and combating IUU fishing is one component of our holistic approach.
Recognizing the significant threats posed by IUU fishing, USAID works closely with other U.S. government agencies, partner governments, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector to strengthen the sustainable management of fisheries in the countries where we work.
And as we proceed with this MOU, I would especially like to offer my congratulations to Dr. Kaush Arha at USAID and Rear Admiral Gallaudet at NOAA for advancing further coordination to combat IUU fishing.
In addition, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to USAID and NOAA technical staff for formalizing this collaboration and for the ongoing work to jointly address these issues throughout our programs and policies.
Thank you for joining us today to mark this important milestone, and we look forward to our collective efforts in the months and years to come.