Push made in US Senate to include shrimp in Seafood Import Monitoring Program
Two U.S. senators announced on Thursday, 27 July they have included language in an appropriations bill that would require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to include shrimp in a regulation designed to monitor seafood imports.
Domestic processors hailed the move to include shrimp in the Seafood Import Monitoring Program, which requires importers to track various species from the time it was harvested through the point it reached the United States. NOAA announced SIMP on 9 December, 2016, requiring full compliance by 1 January, 2018.
However, at the time of the announcement, NOAA excluded shrimp imports from meeting the 2018 compliance date because similar recording requirements were not in place for domestic shrimp produced through aquaculture.
To counter that, Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi) and Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) decided to include language in the 2018 CJS funding bill requiring shrimp importers meet SIMP requirements. Earlier this year, they joined with nine other senators to write to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and ask the Trump administration to add shrimp into the program due to fraud associated with imported products.
“This provision sends a signal that the Senate is serious about protecting consumers, while leveling the playing field for our domestic shrimpers harmed by illegal and unfair foreign competition,” Cochran said in a statement.
Cochran added that, in Mississippi alone, shrimp processers harvested more than 40 million pounds in 2015, producing an economic impact of more than USD 122 million (EUR 103.8 million).
According to the American Shrimp Processors Association, shrimp makes up nearly two-thirds of all seafood imports.
“This measure will make sure that the health and safety of the American consumer is foremost when it comes to aquaculture shrimp imports,” said Edward T. Hayes, Gulf of Mexico counsel for the ASPA.
The shrimp provision wasn’t the only seafood-related item in the bill, which the Senta Appropriations Committee approved on Thursday. Cochran also announced that it included USD 5 million (EUR 4.3 million) in funding to NOAA for red snapper pilot programs, which would allow Gulf Coast states to manage the fish in designated artificial reef zones in federal waters. It also includes USD 11.5 million (EUR 9.8 million) for aquaculture research and complete funding to implement electronic monitoring technologies that support real-time fishery data collection.
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.