PR No. 155
ISLAMABAD: November 21, 2023

Pakistan attains a remarkable global milestone as the Department of Commerce and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) grant a prestigious two-year extension to the exemption period, distinguishing the nation among a select few out of 130 countries. This significant extension, as outlined in a Federal Register Notice, extends the deadline for comparability findings for commercial fishing operations exporting fish and fish products to the U.S. to December 31, 2025. This extension represents a notable revision to the regulations implementing the import provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), initially introduced in 2016. The regulations initially granted foreign nations a five-year exemption period to develop regulatory programs addressing marine mammal bycatch comparable to U.S. standards. Originally set to conclude on December 31, 2023, this exemption period has now been extended. NMFS, entrusted with evaluating each nation's regulatory programs, acknowledges the complexity of assessing the incidental and intentional mortality and serious injury of marine mammals in fisheries exporting to the U.S. The Department of Commerce and NMFS, in a strategic move, have determined that additional time is necessary to ensure fair and consistent comparability determinations across harvesting nations. This achievement is not just about securing an extension; it's a testament to Pakistan's commitment to aligning its fishing practices with the highest international standards. The extension underscores Pakistan's dedication to upholding the objectives of the Marine Mammal Protection Act while navigating the practical challenges of evaluating regulatory programs in foreign countries. Moreover, this also sets a powerful precedent for other nations to follow suit, demonstrating Pakistan's leadership in sustainable marine resource management.