U.S. President Donald Trump’s declaration that June is National Ocean Month – and his stated desire to grow the country’s seafood exports – was praised by seafood industry groups.
“The fisheries resources of the United States are among the most valuable in the world. Growing global demand for seafood presents tremendous opportunities for expansion of our seafood exports, which can reduce our more than US 13 billion (EIR 11.6 billion) seafood trade deficit,” he said.
The American Shrimp Processors Association welcomed President Trump’s call-out of the domestic seafood industry, the organization’s executive director, C. David Veal, told SeafoodSource.
"The American Shrimp Processors Association welcomes any recognition from the Trump administration of the significant problems caused by the trade imbalances of imported seafood. The USD 4.5 billion (EUR 4 billion) trade deficit from shrimp alone has had devastating impacts on communities in the Gulf and South Atlantic regions for the last two decades,” he said. “Any effort to reduce the trade deficit is appreciated by those who make their livelihoods in the domestic shrimp industry and their associated communities."
In his remarks commemorating the declaration, Trump also said that the country’s offshore areas are underutilized and often unexplored.
“We have yet to fully leverage new technologies and unleash the forces of economic innovation to more fully develop and explore our ocean economy,” he said.
Gavin Gibbons, vice president of communications for the National Fisheries Institute, said it was “good to see the White House taking notice of the seafood community and focusing on the importance of resource utilization.”
“Safe, sustainable expansion of underutilized areas may present an opportunity for expansion of things like aquaculture. We look forward to seeing any administration plan for such an effort,” Gibbons said.
The key to successful expansion of U.S. seafood production will be maintaining the rigorous sustainability oversight of NOAA, according to Gibbons.
“Initiatives that seek long-term growth solutions should continue to observe the tested, science-based system based on total allowable catch,” he said.
The NFI has previously criticized the president’s proposal to slash funding for NOAA and the National Marine Fisheries Service. However, the organization supports the Trump Administration’s efforts to do away with the United States Department of Agriculture catfish inspection program, which it calls redundant.
In other seafood-related news out of the White House, after a meeting between Trump and Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Vietnam’s prime minister, on 31 May, the White House said the two leaders pledged to continue to work together to seek resolution of priority issues of each country, including trade in shrimp and siluriformes, the scientific name for the order that includes catfish.
The Trump Administration Fiscal Year 2018 Budget does not include funding for the Siluriformes Inspection Program under USDA’s FSIS program, resulting in a USD 2.5 million (EUR 2.2 million) decrease from 2017.
“The budget proposes to transfer the responsibility for siluriformes inspection back to the Food and Drug Administration to avoid potentially duplicative efforts and costs,” Gibbons said.