Netherlands-based companies celebrate resumption of live shellfish trade with US

Published on
March 15, 2022
An array of oysters from the Netherlands.

For the first time in a decade, customers in the U.S. are now able to buy live shellfish from the Netherlands and from Spain, and the U.S. states of Massachusetts and Washington are able to ship live shellfish to the European Union.

The resumption of trade comes as the U.S. has finalized its shellfish equivalence determination, forming a mutual trade agreement between Spain and the Netherlands with the U.S. The first shipment of live shellfish from the Netherlands arrived in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. on 1 March – just in time for Seafood Expo North America.

The Dutch Fish Federation celebrated the occasion by hosting the first tasting of live oysters from the Netherlands at the expo in 10 years.

The new markets are giving Netherlands-based shellfish companies fantastic new opportunities, Seafarm B.V. Founder and Owner Dave Bout told SeafoodSource.

“Finally, after all these years, it’s now allowed to send them to Washington and Massachusetts,” Bout said. “We just did this week, the first shipment.”

The process to get there wasn’t easy, as Bout said his company has been working to prove equivalence with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for six or seven years, and that the farms had to be inspected.

“It’s a long, dusty road,” Bout said. 

Dutch Fish Federation said its shellfish companies exhibiting at the expo had already planned to attend well before the final approvals went through and the first shipments of live shellfish arrived, providing auspicious timing.

But Bout said after a decade of absence from the market, it will likely take time to develop customers in the two states.

“We are now finding out how to market these, and what you can do here,” he said. “We’re also trying to understand what products can be imported to the Netherlands.”  

Photo by Chris Chase/SeafoodSource

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