NOAA 2002-031
Contact: Susan Buchanan
NOAA News Releases 2002
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U.S. Aggressively Monitoring Imports; Issues Consumer Fact Sheet

The United States is a leading partner in efforts to manage and conserve the Chilean sea bass (also known as toothfish), a deep-water fish that lives in the cold waters of Antarctica. The U.S. Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. State Department are enforcing import regulations and cooperating with the international community to prevent overfishing of the species. A consumer fact sheet has been released by the department to help answer some commonly asked questions from the public.

The United States is part of the 24-member-nation Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, which has agreed to catch limits for Chilean sea bass and implemented a document system to track catches. U.S. customs and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) regulations do not allow Chilean sea bass imports without this document and a valid dealer permit issued by NOAA.

Aggressive monitoring of Chilean sea bass imports reflects a genuine commitment by the United States government to curb activities that could lead to a depletion of the resources. Even so, illegal poaching of Chilean sea bass threatens the Commission's conservation attempts.

NOAA's Office for Law Enforcement and the U.S. Customs Service last summer seized two separate shipments of Chilean sea bass totaling over 35 tons of fish. These shipments, imported from South Africa and collectively valued at over $100,000, were seized following extensive coordination with law enforcement from the South African government.

Legal U.S. imports account for about 15 to 20 percent of the world market for Chilean sea bass, a species that can live up to 50 years and grow to over 200 pounds. Argentina, France, Chile, Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Korea and Uruguay are the primary countries that harvest the species.

For more information about the Chilean sea bass fishery, download the public fact sheet provided by the Departments of Commerce and State at:, or visit the Commission Web site at:

NOAA's National Marine Fishery Service (NOAA fisheries) is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation's living marine resources through scientific research, management, enforcement, and the conservation of marine mammals and other protected marine species and their habitat. To learn more about NOAA Fisheries, please visit