The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) oversees fisheries management in the United States. Under authority in the 1946 Agricultural Marketing Act, the NOAA Seafood Inspection Program provides inspection services for fish, shellfish, and fishery products to the industry. The NOAA Seafood Inspection Program is often referred to as the U.S. Department of Commerce (USDC) Seafood Inspection Program and uses marks and documents bearing the USDC moniker.
The NOAA Seafood Inspection Program offers a variety of professional inspection services on a fee-for-service basis which assure compliance with all applicable food regulations. The Program offers sanitation inspection as well as system and process auditing in facilities, on vessels, or other processing establishments in order to be designated as participating establishments. Product quality evaluation, grading and certification services are available on a product lot basis. Certain products may be eligible for stamping with official marks, such as the U.S. Grade A, Processed Under Federal Inspection (PUFI) and Lot Inspection.
The services provided by NOAA include the following:
- Establishment Sanitation Inspection
- System and Process Audits
- Product Inspection and Grading
- Product Lot Inspection
- Laboratory Analyses
- Export Certification
These services can be provided nationwide, in U.S. territories, and in foreign countries. All types of establishments such as vessels, processing plants, and retail facilities may receive these services. All edible product forms ranging from whole fish to formulated products, as well as fish meal products used for animal foods, are eligible for inspection and certification.
The program is the competent authority within the U.S. Government for issuance of health certificates for export of fish and fishery products to foreign countries. The official government forms and certificates issued by USDC inspectors are legal documents recognized in any U.S. court.