"I am requesting that the USDA and FDA take immediate measures to significantly increase the level of seafood inspections at the sites where it is harvested and at our borders."
Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser and Jefferson Parish Councilman Ricky Templet will introduce a resolution at the annual Jefferson Parish council meeting in Grand Isle on Wednesday, July 25 at 11 a.m. at the Multiplex Center at Grand Isle City Hall, 170 Ludwig Lane in Grand Isle. The resolution will request the Louisiana Congressional Delegation introduce and support legislation to impose a ten cent per pound inspection fee on all imported seafood entering the United States. The goal of the legislation would be to ensure imported seafood is safe for consumers.
“For generations, Louisianans have developed a culture and economy surrounding our seafood industry,” said Lieutenant Governor Nungesser. “We are especially proud of our shrimp harvested directly from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico; however, the entire seafood industry has been in severe decline over the last decade due to unfairly imported seafood.”
According to a 2017 study conducted by the U.S. Governmental Accounting Office, only a limited number of inspections are performed on foreign seafood processors and farmers. Foreign seafood, especially those grown in aquaculture facilities, are often treated with larger doses of antibiotics and other chemicals to treat diseases and enhance growth. These practices place American Commercial Seafood Producers at a competitive disadvantage with foreign producers who are not held to the same standards.
Added Lieutenant Governor regarding his request, “Between 2015 and 2016, there was an 18 percent increase in shrimp imports from China and a 26 percent increase from India in 2016. I am requesting that the USDA and FDA take immediate measures to significantly increase the level of seafood inspections at the sites where it is harvested and at our borders. The lack of inspection causes a health and safety risk and places our domestic seafood producers at a significant economic disadvantage.”
In a recent article from USA Today, reports from multiple states, including Louisiana, indicated that crabmeat imported from Venezuela made people sick. Several people across the country became sick from a bacterial infection with four people being hospitalized.
According to the New York Times, imported Chinese crawfish once accounted for over 80 percent of United States tail meat. While the issue has slowly tapered off, Chinese seafood still accounts for over $2.6 billion in seafood imports as of 2017.
Louisiana harvests more seafood than any other state in the lower 48 with 37.4 million pounds being shrimp as of 2017. The industry accounts for 15,000 jobs and annual economic impact of $1.3 billion to the state’s economy. One out of every 70 jobs in Louisiana is related to the seafood industry, which in total has a $2.4 billion economic impact to the state.
Contributed by Office of Lt. Gov. Nungesser