The National Defense Authorization Act passed Dec. 17 by the Senate includes the bipartisan Maritime SAFE — Security and Fisheries Enforcement — Act, introduced by Sens. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, and Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, that would promote a whole-of-government strategy to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

IUU fishing threatens the national security of the U.S. and food security around the world. Actors involved in IUU fishing have been known to conduct other illicit activities such as weapon, drug and human trafficking.

“IUU fishing is an issue that not only poses a serious threat to national security, but also contributes to instability in regions important to U.S. interests,” said Coons. “As a coastal state with vibrant marine ecosystems, Delaware is susceptible to the far-reaching effects of IUU fishing. I’m pleased the Senate passed this important legislation that will give us the tools to combat a multi-billion-dollar criminal industry that undercuts the economic livelihoods of fishermen and threatens food security for communities around the world.”

The bipartisan Maritime SAFE Act establishes an interagency working group to provide federal agencies with a coordinated framework to effectively combat IUU fishing and authorizes a range of agency activities, including building capacity for law enforcement and port security, reducing illegally-sourced product circulating within the seafood supply chain, promoting the use of technology to combat IUU fishing and encouraging better information sharing among agencies and other organizations.