Georgia pressured to join other US states in making disaster declaration related to foreign shrimp imports
Georgia is the latest Southern U.S. state facing pressure to declare a fisheries disaster over imported shrimp.
Several Southern communities and local officials have declared disasters over shrimp dumping, arguing that a glut of foreign shrimp is devastating domestic producers.
Southern shrimpers hope the local declarations, alongside a slew of letters send to politicians, will encourage state governors to ask NOAA Fisheries to declare a fisheries disaster, a move that would make the domestic shrimp industry eligible to receive relief funding.
The grassroots campaign is being driven by a recent change to federal legislation that allows NOAA Fisheries to declare fisheries disasters over man-made issues, which shrimpers argue should apply to shrimp dumping. In order to declare a disaster, NOAA Fisheries must receive a request from a governor, which is why local lawmakers and communities are appealing to their state governments.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is the latest to come under pressure, with several state representatives and senators signing a letter demanding action, according to The Brunswick News. On 21 September, Richmond Hill, Georgia approved an economic disaster declaration, blaming a flood of cheap imports for damaging the coastal community's local shrimping industry.
"We actually had a thriving industry here in Richmond Hill with shrimping,” Richmond Hill Mayor Russ Carpenter said, according to the Bryan County News. “It’s certainly not what it used to be but we’d really still like to protect our shrimpers.”
Last month, the Southern Shrimp Alliance penned a letter to eight Southern governors asking them to request emergency declarations from NOAA Fisheries.
"To be clear, our shrimping industry faces an unprecedented crisis that threatens the existence of domestic shrimping," the letter states. "Accordingly, we are asking that you call on President Biden and the Department of Commerce to immediately address the unfair and illegal trade practices and shrimp dumping that is destroying our domestic industry."
The campaign has already secured one major victory, with Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards promising to ask the federal government to declare a fisheries disaster.
“The shrimp industry has a long, rich history in Louisiana,” Edwards said. “You have my continued support and commitment that we will pursue every available avenue to ensure the shrimp industry continues in Louisiana for generations to come.”
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock / KET-SMM