Wednesday, May 28, 2014

China Lifts Ban on Washington State Geoducks

China has notified the US Trade Representative’s office that it has lifted a ban on the import of Washington State geoducks, news that has met with the approval of Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-WA.

Cantwell issued a statement in late May saying this is great news for the shellfish industry, which is a vital part of the maritime economy in Washington state and supports thousands of jobs.

“Since most of our geoduck exports go to China, this will be a major step forward,” Cantwell said.

The ban, which was lifted for Washington in mid-May, had been in effect since Dec. 2, 2013. The ban included geoducks and other bivalve seafood products, including oysters, clams and mussels from Washington, Oregon, Northern California and Alaska.

Geoducks are hugely popular in China, where about 90 percent of Puget Sound geoducks are exported.

Chinese officials banned imports after two shipments of geoducks were flagged for potential toxins. US officials disputed the accuracy of the results and found that the shellfish were safe to eat.  They have worked with stakeholders, tribes, academics and Chinese officials to conduct additional monitoring and develop specific seafood testing protocols for geoducks that will be exported to China.

On Dec. 20, Cantwell sent a letter to the US Food and Drug Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Trade Representative requesting immediate action to resolve the geoduck ban. Signers included 9 other members of Congress from Washington state, Senators Lisa Murkowski, R-AK, Mark Begich, D-AK, Rep Don Young, R-AK, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-OR, Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-OR, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-OR, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D[OR, Rep. Mike Thompson, D-CA, Rep Jared Huffman, D-CA, and Rep. Sam Farr, D-CA.

Washington state’s $270 million shellfish industry supports more than 3,000 jobs in the state’s coastal communities. Shellfish farming is the largest employer in Washington’s Pacific County and is the second largest employer in Mason County.

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