Theft occurs every day on the high seas. In the 21st century, it’s not gold doubloons, but the glistening silver of fish being stolen from the world for the benefit of a few.

The United States is taking action to stop illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing that disrupts legal seafood commerce and threatens sea life.

Illegal fishers exceed catch quotas and deplete marine resources below sustainable levels. That’s a global problem, so the action plan announced by a presidential task force in 2015 sets out how the United States and international partners are strengthening governance and law enforcement to combat illegal fishing and seafood fraud.

The plan aims to increase transparency and accountability so consumers in the United States and elsewhere will know more about the seafood they buy, such as who caught what, when it was caught, and in what waters.

“Illegal fishing and seafood fraud affect the American public and people around the world,” said Under Secretary of State Catherine Novelli.

Kathryn Sullivan, head of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the new enforcement measures will protect “legitimate fishermen, increase consumer confidence in the sustainability of seafood sold in the U.S., and ensure the vitality of marine fish stocks.”

The Obama administration also is pursuing these goals in negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a regional trade agreement with countries that collectively produce one-quarter of global marine catch and seafood exports.

Fishing regulation helps consumers know products are safe and sustainably harvested. (NOAA)

Nearly 3 billion people worldwide depend on seafood. In many developing countries, fish is a main source of protein.

Mislabeling the species and origins of a catch is another form of consumer deception found in the sea food market. Increased U.S. regulatory actions should give consumers greater assurances about the quality, safety and sustainability of the seafood they eat.

What do you know about the seafood you eat?