Mar 30, 2018 Issues: Fishing

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) has helped deliver a victory in the fight to level the playing field for shrimping families in Eastern North Carolina and across the country.  Jones has been pushing the administration and his congressional colleagues to make foreign shrimp part of a tough new federal monitoring program to prevent the dumping of illegal shrimp into the American market.  After Jones sent a letter to the House Commerce Appropriations Subcommittee making the case, a bill (H.R. 1625) that passed Congress last week included language (Sec. 539) that will require shrimp to be part of the program.

“America must stand up for its own workers and cease to be a dumping ground for illegal and often contaminated seafood products,” said Congressman Jones.  “I am grateful to Chairman Culberson and his staff for their assistance on this important issue to help level the playing field.”   
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 have been pushing to change that. 

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 Congressman Jones’ letter to Chairman Culberson is attached, as is a similar letter he sent to the Secretary of Commerce.   

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