US shrimp imports continue to rise as bill is introduced to increase oversight

Published on
January 11, 2018

American shrimp imports continued to rise in November, according to information released by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The United States imported 65,267 metric tons of shrimp in November, compared to 61,684 metric tons received in November 2016. The 2017 year-to-date totals reflect a more than 10 percent increase from 2016, with the U.S. importing more than 604,000 metric tons through the first 11 months of 2017, according to the NMFS

The value of the imported shrimp rose by about 10 percent year-to-year, from USD 550.7 million (EUR 457.6 million) in November 2016 to USD 605.3 million (EUR 502.8 million). The 2017 year-to-date value of USD 5.94 billion (EUR 4.93 billion) represents a nearly 15 percent increase from the previous year. 

The vast majority of the seafood Americans consume is imported into the country, with shrimp being the leading product.

The NMFS data has been released at the same time some federal officials are pushing for shrimp to be included in the Seafood Import Monitoring Program, which began on 1 January. Designed to improve product traceability, SIMP requires seafood importers to track imported products from the time it was harvested to the time it arrives in the country.

Officials excluded shrimp, and abalone products, from the initial compliance date until similar reporting requirements have been put in place for domestic shrimp producers.

However, the current budget bill before the U.S. Senate would require shrimp importers to fall under SIMP compliance within 30 days. In a Facebook post earlier this month, seafood importer Rubicon Resources said the requirement would force prices increases and supply shortages.

Andrea Hance, executive director of the Texas Shrimp Association, told the Brownsville Herald last week that domestic shrimp producers are hopeful that requirement will remain in the bill. 

“Typically we have consumers on our side,” she said. “It’s a hot topic with consumers.”

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