Section 8 of the Fishermen’s Protective Act, also known as the Pelly Amendment, was added to this 1954 statute by P.L. 92-219 (85 Stat. 786).

The section originally required the Secretary of Commerce to report to the President when he or she determines that nationals of a foreign country are diminishing the effectiveness of an international fishery conservation program. The President is then authorized to direct the Secretary of the Treasury to prohibit the importation of fish products from the offending nation for such duration as he or she determines appropriate and to the extent that such prohibition is consistent with the General Agreements on Trade and Tariffs.

The Pelly Amendment was expanded by P.L. 95-376 (92 Stat. 714), September 18, 1978, to authorize the President to embargo wildlife products (including all fish not previously covered) whenever the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Commerce certifies that nationals of a foreign country are engaging in trade or taking that diminishes the effectiveness of an international program in force with respect to the United States for the conservation of endangered or threatened species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) utilizes the Pelly Amendment when negotiating with other Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) on the listing of certain species.

Certification of Iceland

On February 6, 2014, the Department of the Interior announced that it had certified to President Obama under the Pelly Amendment to the Fishermen’s Protective Act of 1967 that Iceland’s international trade in whale meat and products diminishes the effectiveness of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

For more information on this decision, please refer to our Q&As.

On January 23, 2015, federal agencies and departments submitted a report to the President outlining actions that have been taken to encourage Iceland to halt commercial whaling and international trade in whale meat, and support international conservation efforts since the 2014 certification.  Read the report.

Iceland was also certified under the Pelly Amendment in July 2011 by then-Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke who found that commercial whaling activities by Icelandic nationals diminished the effectiveness of the International Whaling Commission conservation program.