Alabama governor signs seafood labeling bill into law

Fishing vessels docked in Alabama
Fishing vessels docked in Alabama | Photo courtesy of Shutterstock/Leigh Trail
4 Min

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has signed a bill into law requiring grocery store delis and restaurants in the U.S. state to label whether seafood being served is imported or domestically produced.

Introduced earlier in the year by Alabama State Representative Chip Brown (R-Hollinger’s Island), the law also requires those establishments to designate whether seafood is wild-caught or farm-raised.

“The seafood industry is essential to the economy throughout Alabama’s Gulf Coast region, and with foreign-caught products flooding the U.S. market, we must take every step to both support it and protect it,” Brown told the Alabama Daily News in February. “By requiring disclosure of the country of origin for seafood, we can encourage the use of products caught in Alabama while ensuring that consumers are better informed about the food they consume.”

The law will go into effect 1 October 2024, and the Alabama State Department of Public Health will enforce the new rules.

Mobile, Alabama-based environmental group Mobile Baykeeper praised the legislation as a win for local fishers beset by competition from foreign imports.

“Imported seafood has been decimating our neighbors’ ability to make a living,” Mobile Baykeeper Executive Director William Strickland said. “Imports undercut the price of Alabama-harvested seafood, causing generational commercial fishing families to suffer. However, foreign, farmed seafood is not the preference of most consumers. We are grateful to Representative Chip Brown for putting the choice in our hands on what kind of seafood we want to eat. Now, let’s get to work on protecting habitat so we have more shrimp to catch.”

The law is the latest government action designed to tackle seafood imports, which officials claim are devastating domestic producers. In 2023, the Alabama city of Bayou La Batre issued a disaster declaration over the impact of imports on local shrimpers.

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