Resolution seeks fee on imported seafood
A resolution that was to be introduced at Wednesday's Jefferson Parish Council meeting at Grand Isle will ask for an inspection fee on imported seafood, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser's office said Tuesday.
The resolution asks Louisiana's congressional delegation to introduce and support a fee of 10 cents per pound on imported seafood.
“For generations, Louisianans have developed a culture and economy surrounding our seafood industry,” Nungesser said in a news release. "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.
Between 2015 and 2016, there was an 18 percent increase in shrimp imports from China and a 26 percent increase from India in 2016, Nungesser said.
"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, Nungesser said.
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 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, Nungesser's office said.