SSA wants NOAA to avoid promoting imports in its National Seafood Strategy

A seafood counter at Publix in the U.S.

The Southern Shrimp Alliance said it supports a NOAA's National Seafood Strategy, which is designed to promote domestic seafood consumption – provided it doesn’t also promote foreign imports.

NOAA released its draft National Seafood Strategy on 14 February, focusing on NOAA Fisheries’ work on managing the country’s marine fisheries “based on sound science.” Most of the strategy includes details on how the administration will promote the financial viability of the industry, resilience of coastal communities, and the effects of international trade.

Included in the strategy is a push to promote U.S. seafood both domestically and abroad, and increase seafood consumption in the U.S.

SSA said that it supports a strategy promoting seafood – if it only promotes U.S. seafood.

The trade group cited efforts by the Seafood Nutrition Partnership (SNP) and the National Seafood Council Task Force to secure USD 25 million (EUR 23 million) per year for five years for a marketing body to promote seafood consumption by highlighting the health benefits of seafood and the U.S. jobs that could be created by an increase in U.S. consumption. 

“The unfortunate problem is, however, this marketing campaign and the USD 125 million (EUR 115 million) in taxpayer funds would be used to promote U.S. consumption of both domestic seafood production AND seafood imports,” SSA wrote.

The problem with that, the SSA said in its comments on the new strategy, is that promoting imports and some of NOAA’s other objectives don't mesh. 

“Promoting the U.S. consumption of seafood imports known to include seafood derived from IUU fisheries or produced using forced and child labor would be the antithesis of combatting those illegal and abhorrent practices,” SSA wrote.

Specifically, SSA had problems with NOAA Fisheries participating in the SNP campaign “so long as it continues to promote the U.S. consumption of seafood imports.”

“SSA notes that SNP and its campaign participants still have the opportunity to reconsider and revise its priorities to promote only the U.S. consumption of U.S. seafood produced in U.S. wild-capture fisheries and U.S. aquaculture operations,” SSA said. “Hopefully, with NOAA’s encouragement, they will do so.”  

Part of the core argument for a promotional seafood board that doesn't specify between product types or sourcing, SNP President Linda Lai Cornish told SeafoodSource, is that it serves as win for the entire industry without causing strife among different user-groups. 

"For decades, the industry has struggled with being so fragmented that we’ve failed to simply send the message that seafood is healthy and nutritious," Cornish said. "SNP’s goal is to promote seafood and its public health benefits. It is to get more families into the seafood section of the grocery store and restaurants. It’s to get out the message that seafood improves brain and heart health. It is not about ignoring divisions in the industry; it is about setting them aside so we can finally catch up with other major food promotion efforts and unlock the enormous benefits of seafood, including for domestic fishers and companies. We need the entire seafood sector in the U.S. to meet the seafood needs of all Americans."

Cornish added that SNP has worked over the past year to bring seafood companies and organizations of "all shapes and sizes" to tell policymakers about the importance of seafood. 

"Beyond this campaign, we look forward to continuing to use the passion and enthusiasm of the seafood community to fight for policies that will help seafood be a true competitive force," she said. "We are stronger together, and we’re excited to help make seafood a regular staple in Americans’ diets. It’s time for the seafood industry to come together and tell its great story to consumers."

Photo courtesy of Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock


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