Market Access & Development

Seafood Import Provisions under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is proposing to ban imports from fishing industries (including aquaculture) by 2022 that are permitted to kill marine mammals.

The Fish and Fish Product Import Provisions of the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) requires that the U.S. ban imports of commercial fish or fish products caught or killed in commercial fisheries (including aquaculture) that have resulted in the killing or serious injury of marine mammals in excess of U.S. standards.

A component of the NOAA implementation of the import provision is the NOAA List of Foreign Fisheries which lists foreign commercial fisheries that export fish and fish products to the U.S. and that have been classified as either “export” or “exempt” based on the frequency and likelihood of incidental mortality and serious injury of marine mammals.

By January 1, 2022, a listed nation must apply for and receive a comparability finding for each of its export and exempt fisheries on the list to continue to export fish and fish products from those fisheries to the U.S. The review of the list will begin in 2020.

Where there is evidence of permitted killing of mammals in a particular fishery, these products fall onto the “export fishery” list, and where there is no concern, these areas are “exempt” from further action.

Canadian aquaculture products labeled as “Export Fisheries” include:

Species Province
Atlantic Salmon BC, NB, NL
Chinook Salmon BC
Coho Salmon BC
Sablefish BC
Cunner NB
Haddock NB
Halibut NB
Cod NB
Steelhead Trout NL

DFO will begin formal consultations with industry in partnership with CAIA in the coming weeks. Discussions with CAIA finfish members indicate the importance of carefully understanding NOAA’s definition of “accidental” killing and also what are the repercussions of non-compliance.

Producer and exporting members are encouraged to review the NOAA List of Foreign Fisheries. Those with concerns about continued market access for your products due to the MMPA import restrictions are asked to contact Tim Kennedy at