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U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Ecosystem Issues


The United States has become increasingly concerned by the impacts of some fishing activities on the marine environment, including excessive bycatch and significant adverse impacts to vulnerable marine ecosystems and deep sea fisheries by certain fishing practices.

The Department of State with other federal agencies, such as the National Marine Fisheries Service, works bilaterally, regionally, and globally to adopt strong measures to prevent harmful impacts of fishing activities on the marine environment. In particular, the United States advocates for conservation and management measures that incorporate ecosystem considerations, are consistent with the best available scientific advice, and use the precautionary approach as described in the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement.

The United States is also actively engaged in efforts to address the impacts and incidents of derelict fishing gear and related marine debris. Derelict fishing gear, including whole and large sections of nets, as well as discarded fishing line and plastic parts associated with traps and nets, poses a navigation hazard and a threat to life and property when encountered at sea. Furthermore, “ghost fishing”, the trapping and entangling of marine animals in DFG and other debris, can result in unintentional and unaccountable fatalities. Derelict nets and pots have the potential to continue to function as designed, catching target commercial species with no economic benefit.


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