Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour on Tuesday signed a bill that requires the state's restaurants to disclose the origin of the catfish they serve. The law becomes effective July 1.

If a restaurant sells imported catfish, its menu must include that information in a typeface the same size as the listing for the catfish entree.

The regulation is designed to protect the domestic catfish industry from imports of catfish and similar fish like pangasius, or basa, which is predominantly farmed in Asia. The majority of domestic catfish is raised in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.

Several southern states enacted measures to either restrict or ban the sale of Asian catfish since last June, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an import alert against Chinese farmed seafood species, including catfish, basa and shrimp, due to repeated use of banned veterinary drugs.

Federal law requires seafood country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for products bound for U.S. supermarkets, but not the foodservice industry. COOL regulations require that seafood products sold by supermarkets include the country of origin and method of production (wild or farmed).

For an in-depth look at COOL, see the April SeaFood Business Top Story, The Call for COOL.

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