Alabama city declares disaster over shrimp imports
The city of Bayou La Batre in the U.S. state of Alabama has declared a disaster over shrimp imports, and it’s asking the state government and the federal government to do the same.
The Bayou La Batre city council unanimously adopted a resolution on 17 August declaring shrimp dumping to be a disaster.
“The recent influxes of imported shrimp into the United States markets have affected the ability to market and see wild caught domestic shrimp,” the resolution states. “The magnitude of the potential damage and the rapidity with which the continuation of the decrease of the marketability of domestic shrimp is an imminent threat of disaster.”
NOAA Fisheries estimated that the U.S. had a seafood trade deficit of USD 17 billion (EUR 15.7 billion) in 2019.
A similar resolution was adopted by the county government of Matagorda in the U.S. state of Texas.
Mayor Henry Barnes followed up with a letter to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, asking her to declare a disaster as well.
“Our community has been involved in commercial fishing well over 150 years and is known as “The Seafood Capital of Alabama.” Our seafood industry is being squeezed out of existence due to the continued dumping of imported shrimp. I and many others fear that our way of life will become extinct and forgotten,” Barnes said.
State legislators from the area have also written letters imploring the state to declare a disaster, and Texas representatives have reached out to the U.S. Department of Commerce to explain how it is combatting shrimp dumping.
The federal government has expressed interest in supporting domestic fishermen against imports. In June, the International Trade Commission decided to maintain antidumping duties on shrimp from India, China, Thailand, and Vietnam.
“Decades of increasing imported shrimp volumes have created a race to the bottom on prices and decimated our market share. Today, the ITC provided us with a lifeline and incentive to continue the fight to allow this industry to survive in a fair competitive environment,” American Shrimp Processors Association President Trey Pearson said in response.
In July, the Department of Commerce released a new export strategy to address trade imbalances affecting America’s domestic seafood industry.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock / Paul Winterman