The National Marine Fisheries Service has issued new regulations to reduce incidental take or serious injury of marine mammals due to fishing activities. The United States will require trading nations that export seafood to the U.S. to demonstrate that they have protective standards similar to those required under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act. Entanglement with fishing gear is one of the greatest threats to marine mammals and the Humane Society of the United States commends the Administration for taking this important step toward making the oceans safer for marine wildlife.

Since the 1970s, the MMPA has required that countries offer proof that their fisheries meet U.S. standards for protecting marine mammals. But, until now, this requirement has not been specified or enforced. This has placed responsible U.S. fishermen at a disadvantage and resulted in the deaths of an estimated half million marine mammals each year.

To comply with the new regulations, trading nations will be required to objectively monitor the impacts of their fisheries on marine mammals. They may also be required to modify their methods of fishing or restrict fisheries in some areas to reduce the risk of whales, dolphins and other marine mammals becoming entangled.

The U.S. government estimates that up to 90 percent of seafood in the U.S. is imported. If international fisheries are held to the same standards as U.S. fisheries, the new requirements promise to dramatically reduce the death toll of marine mammals worldwide.

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