US lieutenant governors call for more inspections on imported seafood

Published on
July 24, 2019

Lieutenant governors in the United States have put their weight behind a resolution sponsored by Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser (R-Louisiana) calling for additional inspections of imported seafood.

The resolution was approved at the National Lieutenant Governors Association annual meeting, which took place last week in Wilmington, Delaware. It calls on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to “take immediate measures” to inspect foreign seafood, both at the point of harvest and when it enters the country.

Nungesser’s resolution was supported by Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz (D–Connecticut), Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long (D–Delaware), Lt. Governor Kate Marshall (D–Nevada) and Lt. Governor Kevin Meyer (R–Alaska).

The resolution calls on the creation of an inspection fee in the range of USD 0.05 (EUR 0.04) to USD 0.10 (EUR 0.09) per pound. Seafood caught by American fishermen and sent overseas for processing would be exempt from the inspection process.

“The fees collected on imported seafood can be used to fund the hiring of additional inspectors to ensure the safety of imported seafood consumed by Americans,” the resolution stated. 

On 1 January, 2018, the federal government implement the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP), which requires importers of key species to track seafood from the time it was harvested to the time it reached an American port. Nearly a year later, SIMP was expanded to include shrimp imports.

SIMP’s main function is to combat seafood that’s illegally caught, unreported, or mislabeled. However, elected leaders have still raised concerns about the number of inspections performed on imports.

Earlier this year, Congress approved giving the FDA an additional USD 3.1 million (EUR 2.8 million) to conduct more seafood inspections. According to a Government Accountability Office report, more than a million seafood entry lines were received at U.S. ports in 2015. Of that, FDA inspectors examined 22,253. Of those, inspectors took samples from less than 4,000 entry lines and just 1,065 were tested for drugs.

After Congress passed the additional funding, the FDA announced it would develop a new strategy to ensure foreign seafood meets the same standards that American seafood products must meet.

Inspections on imported seafood will continue to be a focus for the NLGA, as Nungesser was named the group’s incoming chair at the annual meeting.

"This is quite an honor for Louisiana and I look forward to tackling issues such as the need for more inspection on imported seafood, childhood obesity and expanded access to export markets for agriculture," Nungesser said in a tweet.

Photo courtesy of State of Louisiana Office of the Lieutenant Governor

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