Wednesday, December 18, 2013

China Urged to Renew Imports of Alaska Shellfish

China is being asked to lift its recent ban on importing geoduck clams, a prized Chinese delicacy, from the waters of Southeast Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, made the request Dec. 17 in a letter to Chinese Ambassador to the United States Tiankai Cui, noting that testing by state agencies in Alaska and Washington found the geoduck clams well within acceptable limits for paralytic shellfish toxin and inorganic arsenic.

The state of Alaska was notified on Dec. 5 that China would ban imports of geoduck clams and other similar shellfish due to reports that samples of product from Southeast Alaska and the Pacific Northwest tested higher than acceptable for limits on PST and inorganic arsenic.

Begich chairs the Senate Interparliamentary Council on China, and also chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and the Cost Guard. He said he is keenly interested in Alaska-China trade issues, especially those involving Alaska seafood.

Begich urged Cui to address the matter immediately and work to resolve the conflicting test results so that the commercial shellfish trade could resume as soon as possible. He also urged seafood inspectors with the state, Food and Drug Administration and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to cooperate with inspectors from the People’s Republic of China to ensure that they had information needed to lift the ban.

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