JONES CALLS FOR TOUGH MEASURES ON ILLEGAL SHRIMP IMPORTS

Jan 16, 2018 Issues: Fishing

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) is continuing his long-standing fight to level the playing field for shrimping families in Eastern North Carolina and across the country.  In his latest move, Jones is calling for foreign shrimp to be part of a tough new federal monitoring program to prevent the dumping of illegal shrimp into the American market. 

Foreign seafood is often produced and imported into the U.S. through illegal means including: production in countries/facilities that use slave labor; production in foreign aquaculture facilities (shrimp farms) that use illegal antibiotics banned for human consumption by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to a range of health impacts including antimicrobial resistance and cancer; and transshipment or mislabeling in order to evade public health testing or anti-dumping duties.  In late 2016, the Obama administration established a new Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) to ensure there are proper recordkeeping requirements on seafood to prevent the dumping of illegal products into U.S. markets.  Unfortunately, shrimp was not included in that program.  Jones and several of his congressional colleagues want that changed. 

In a letter sent last week, the congressmen urged U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to include shrimp in the Seafood Import Monitoring Program.

“The U.S. shrimp industry is a very critical part of the Gulf and South Atlantic economies but is it slowly eroding as we allow Asian and South American countries to continue their illegal dumping activities,” said Jones and his colleagues.   “The inclusion of shrimp in Seafood Import Monitoring Program would provide a tremendous amount of transparency in the process, while also allowing this trade enforcement tool to reduce the number of illegal chemicals that are used to undercut our labeling regulations and seafood prices.  By doing this the U.S. will protect itself from becoming a dumping ground for illegal and often contaminated seafood products, and stabilize a market that has been manipulated for far too long.”

The problems with illegal and often unsafe shrimp imports are widely documented.  According to data presented in a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report entitled: Imported Seafood Safety:  FDA and USDA Could Strengthen Efforts to Prevent Unsafe Drug Residues (GAO-17-443, Sept. 2017):

     - FDA tested only 0.1 percent of all seafood import entry lines for the presence of banned antibiotics in FY 2015 (see Figure 3 of the report).

     - FDA reported that it had taken 550 shrimp samples for drug testing in FY 2015 and, of those, 67 were found to have the presence of unsafe drug residues.  That is the equivalent of a 12.2 percent violation rate. 

     - The GAO further notes that same year (FY 2015), the U.S. imported 1.3 billion pounds of shrimp.  When applied to all 1.3 billion pounds of shrimp imports that year, the 12.2 % violation rate suggests that as many as 158.6 million pounds of contaminated shrimp may have entered the U.S. during that fiscal year.  Assuming an average serving size of 0.5 pounds, this further suggests that more than 300 million servings of antibiotic-contaminated shrimp may have been consumed by tens of millions of individual U.S. consumers in 2015.

In addition, shrimp from several foreign countries including China, India, Thailand and Vietnam have been subject to anti-dumping duties for over 10 years after producers there were found to be illegally dumping massive quantities of shrimp on the U.S. market.  The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) recently extended those duties for another five years after finding that removing them would likely result in a resumption of illegal dumping. Congressman Jones has been a long-time advocate for the duties, and applauded the ITC’s decision.

A copy of the letter to Secretary Ross from Jones and his colleagues is attached. 

For additional information, please contact Allison Tucker in Congressman Walter Jones’ office at Allison.tucker@mail.house.gov or (202) 225-3415.
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