Congressional leaders have added a measure to the FY2018 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which will fund the federal government through September, requiring the inclusion of imported shrimp in the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP). SIMP requires traceability information on imported seafood from point of capture to point of first sale in the U.S. in order to thwart illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activity.
The House yesterday passed its version of the bill, which is expected to pass the U.S. Senate and become law after the President signs it late today.
In response to the House vote, Dr. David Veal, executive director of the American Shrimp Processor Association (ASPA) released the following statement:
“We are very pleased that…the U.S. House of Representatives passed the FY2018 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. Families in U.S. shrimp communities across the Gulf and South Atlantic are elated that our Senators added traceability and real scrutiny of imported shrimp to the Omnibus Appropriations legislation. Even though shrimp is the largest imported seafood product, it was left out of a December 2016 traceability program that included most other species.
“The playing field has been leveled for American shrimp processors, harvesters and docks. In the House, Representatives Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Garret Graves (R-LA), Brendan Byrne (R-AL), Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Cedric Richmond (D-LA) and many others also played critical roles in this success. ASPA members thank them for their strong efforts.
“We applaud our entire Senate and House team for this win. We want to especially acknowledge the leadership role of Senator Thad Cochran, a true champion of Mississippi and the entire Gulf Region. We will miss him and wish him well in his retirement.”
Added Eddy Hayes, Gulf counsel for ASPA, “This success is a result of a relentless, two-year effort led by Senators Thad Cochran (R-MS), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and many other Senators. We sincerely thank them for their leadership and for taking this necessary step to help ensure a level playing field for the domestic shrimp industry. This is a victory for seafood transparency and the American consumer.
“The IUU traceability program will help eliminate unscrupulous foreign producers and importers who transship product from one country through another. And, our consumers will now hopefully realize a measure of seafood safety similar to that of our counterparts in the EU and Japan.”
The ASPA, based in Biloxi, Mississippi, was formed in 1964 to represent and promote the interests of the domestic, U.S. wild-caught, warm water shrimp processing industry along the Gulf and South Atlantic with members from Texas to North Carolina.