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Reduced Cost (FREE) – AMSEA Commercial Fishing Vessel Drill Conductor Course

October 16th, 2017
Good Day,
  Drill Conductors Safety Course to be held at NOAA Fisheries Laboratory, 3500 Delwood Dr., Panama City Beach, FLRegister online or call AMSEA at (907) 747-3287. The cost for the class is $FREE for commercial fishermen, thanks to support from the U.S. Coast Guard and NIOSH.  This course will fulfill the U.S. Coast Guard requirement; 46 CFR 28.270 – Instruction, Drills, and Safety Orientation for documented vessels operating beyond the boundary line (12nm on the Gulf of Mexico).
§ 28.270Instruction, drills, and safety orientation.
(a)Drills and instruction. The master or individual in charge of each vessel must ensure that drills are conducted and instruction is given to each individual on board at least once each month. Instruction may be provided in conjunction with drills or at other times and places provided it ensures that each individual is familiar with their duties and their responses to at least the following contingencies:
(1) Abandoning the vessel;
(2) Fighting a fire in different locations on board the vessel;
(3) Recovering an individual from the water;
(4) Minimizing the effects of unintentional flooding;
(5) Launching survival craft and recovering lifeboats and rescue boats;
(6) Donning immersion suits and other wearable personal flotation devices;
(7) Donning a fireman’s outfit and a self-contained breathing apparatus, if the vessel is so equipped;
(8) Making a voice radio distress call and using visual distress signals;
(9) Activating the general alarm; and
(10) Reporting inoperative alarm systems and fire detection systems.
(b)Participation in drills. Drills must be conducted on board the vessel as if there were an actual emergency and must include participation by all individuals on board, breaking out and using emergency equipment, testing of all alarm and detection systems, donning protective clothing, and donning immersion suits, if the vessel is so equipped.
(c)Training. No individual may conduct the drills or provide the instructions required by this section unless that individual has been trained in the proper procedures for conducting the activity.
  However, remember that in 2010 the Coast Guard was charged by Congress to implement a change that would require the CAPTAINS of all commercial fishing vessels federally documented and state registered that are operating beyond 3nm of the coast to be certified to meet this requirement.  Now this HAS NOT been put into regulations as of yet.  But this class may be a chance to become or have a long standing captain certified.  More information on this change and others that are pending from the “CG Auth. Act of 2010″ and “CG and Maritime Trans. Act of 2012″ can be found at www.fishsafewest.info.
  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or your local Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Examiner.
Regards,
Mr. Al Waterford, USCG (ret.)
Program Manager, Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety
Fishing and Passenger Vessel Examiner
United States Coast Guard
Sector St. Petersburg
Preventions Department
155 Columbia Dr.
Tampa, FL 33606
Tel #: (813) 228-2196, ext. #8136
Fax #: (813) 228-2399
For More Info Go To:
Commercial Fishing Vessel “Checklist Generator”

Antibiotic-Contaminated Shrimp Rejections Make Up Nearly One-Quarter of the FDA’s Seafood Entry Line Refusals in September

October 4th, 2017
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released information regarding import refusals for September through September 22, 2017.  Over the first three weeks of September, the FDA reports that 17 of 76 (22.4%) total seafood entry line refusals were of shrimp for reasons related to banned antibiotics.  The FDA also issued public notice of additional seafood entry line refusals in the month of August, including the identification of two more entry lines of Vietnamese shrimp refused for reasons related to banned antibiotics.
Through the first three quarters of 2017, the FDA has reported refusing 67 entry lines of shrimp for reasons related to banned antibiotics, substantially below the refusal levels reported in 2014, 2015, and 2016.
The three shrimp entry lines refused by the FDA for banned antibiotics in August were from China, Hong Kong, and Vietnam and were reported by three different FDA import divisions:
  • Yantai Wei-Cheng Food Co., Ltd. (China), a company that has not been exempted from Import Alert 16-131, had fourteen entry lines refused for shrimp contaminated with veterinary drug residues by the Division of West Coast Imports on September 7, 2017;
  • Minh Phu Seafood Corporation (Vietnam), a company that was added to Import Alert 16-124 for ciprofloxacin in its shrimp on September 14, 2017, had two entry lines refused for shrimp contaminated with veterinary drug residues by the Division of Northeast Imports on September 7, 2017; and
  • Tuta Corporation (Venezuela), a company that is not currently listed on Import Alert 16-124, Import Alert 16-127, or Import Alert 16-129, had one entry line refused for shrimp contaminated with veterinary drug residues by the Division of Southeast Imports on September 20, 2017.
The FDA’s reference to Tuta Corporation is the first reported refusal of shrimp from Venezuela for reasons related to banned antibiotics since June of 2007.  However, the drug residue testing information released to the Southern Shrimp Alliance by the FDA in response to a Freedom of Information Act request indicates that between fiscal years 2010 and 2012, the agency tested 31 samples of Venezuelan shrimp and found violative drug residues in 7 of them, a detection rate of 22.6 percent.  Six of the seven detections were for fluoroquinolones.   Yet there are no reported entry line refusals of shrimp shipped from Venezuela for reasons related to banned antibiotics during that period.  And despite the high detection rate, only 30 samples of Venezuelan shrimp appear to have been tested over the next four fiscal years (FY2013-FY2016), with no samples of Venezuelan shrimp tested at all in FY2015.  Over half of the samples taken in that four year period (18 of the 30) were tested for drug residues that had not been previously detected in Venezuelan shrimp (chloramphenicol (9); nitrofurans (8); dyes (1)).  In sum, a high rate of detection of fluoroquinolones in Venezuelan shrimp does not appear to have resulted in increased scrutiny by the FDA and there appears to have been no public notification that the agency had made such a finding.
The two additional shrimp entry lines refused by the FDA for banned antibiotics in August were from Vietnam:
  • Ca Mau Seafood Processing & Service Joint Stock (Vietnam), a company that was added to Import Alert 16-124 for enrofloxacin in its shrimp on December 8, 2016 and, separately, for sulfamethizole in its shrimp on February 28, 2017, had two entry lines refused for shrimp contaminated with veterinary drug residues by the Division of Northeast Imports on August 31, 2017.
However, the FDA’s updated reporting for the month of August omits reference to another shrimp entry line from Ca Mau Seafood Processing & Service Joint Stock (Vietnam), entry line number 991-0228945-3, that had been reported as refused for shrimp contaminated with veterinary drug residues by the Division of Northeast Imports on August 8, 2017.  Further, the FDA’s revised reporting additionally omits reference to a shrimp entry line for Manwill Trading Company (Hong Kong), entry line number EE3-1319155-7, that had been reported as refused for shrimp contaminated with veterinary drug residues by the Division of Northeast Imports on August 14, 2017.  Although these two entry lines no longer appear on the FDA’s drop-down box results of seafood entry line refusals for August, they remain listed in the excel spreadsheet database of FDA entry line refusals available for download from the agency’s website.

GAO Report Asks Why FDA Won’t Ask Foreign Suppliers to Do More to Stop Shipments of Contaminated Seafood

October 3rd, 2017
Over the last several years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) has significantly increased the agency’s testing of imported shrimp for banned antibiotics.  According to data released by the FDA to the Southern Shrimp Alliance in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the number of tests conducted by the agency has increased tenfold since the beginning of this century:

            As testing has increased, detection of banned antibiotics in shrimp has remained significant, as shown in the table below:

With more testing for banned antibiotics and higher detection rates, the FDA might be expected to have taken a more aggressive approach to eliminating the use of antibiotics in aquaculture.  Yet a report made public yesterday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”), Imported Seafood Safety:  FDA and USDA Could Strengthen Efforts to Prevent Unsafe Drug Residues (GAO-17-443, Sept. 2017), indicates that the FDA has not changed its approach.
            Even with increased sampling of shrimp imports, the FDA sampled just 0.1 percent of all seafood entry lines for the presence of banned antibiotics in fiscal year (FY) 2015, as shown in Figure 3 of the report:

            Instead of testing, the FDA relies upon processor and importer compliance with regulations regarding Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) to limit the exposure of American consumers to potentially harmful antibiotics.  Effectively, this means that the FDA relies upon importers to ensure the safety and wholesomeness of imported seafood introduced into the U.S. market.
But the GAO’s report indicates that there is significant reason to doubt importers’ adherence to the HACCP regulations.  The GAO explains that for FY2010 through FY2015, the FDA inspected, on average, 178 seafood importers annually – an amount equivalent to four percent of the average number of seafood importers registered with the FDA each year over that six-year period.  The GAO selected nine inspections to review at random, a process that the oversight body notes is a non-generalizable sample.  Nevertheless, of the nine, the FDA found that five could “not identify the affirmative step taken to document that the foreign processors supplying some or all of that importer’s seafood products were in compliance with HACCP requirements.”  More disturbingly, “[i]n some cases, the inspection report also noted that an earlier FDA inspection had also found that the importer had failed to identify an affirmative step that was required in order to comply with HACCP regulations.”  This means that a small, random pull of FDA’s inspection reports found evidence of repeated non-compliance with HACCP regulations by a seafood importer.
            In the data that the GAO reviewed, the FDA reported that it had taken 550 shrimp samples for drug testing in FY2015 and that, of those, 67 were found to have the presence of unsafe drug residues.  That’s the equivalent of a 12.2 percent violation rate.  The GAO notes that during FY2015, the United States imported 1.3 billion pounds of shrimp.  The violation rate, if applied to all shrimp imports during that year, implies that roughly 158 million pounds of contaminated shrimp entered the United States during that fiscal year.
            The GAO report indicates that this would not have been a surprise to the FDA given what the agency had seen in the ten foreign country assessments conducted regarding drugs in aquaculture in eight countries between 2006 and December 2016.  Although these assessments do not appear to be available to the public – in marked contrast with the European Union – the GAO reviewed these documents.  The GAO observes that in the FDA’s 2013 country assessment of aquaculture in Ecuador, “FDA staff visiting two fish farms in that country discovered that the farms were using an antibiotic on shrimp that FDA had not approved for that product.”
            Moreover, according to the GAO, the FDA was repeatedly informed during these country assessments that a foreign trading partner could do more to prevent the export of contaminated shrimp if the agency would implement additional requirements.  In 2012, Vietnam informed the FDA that under its new food safety law, it could “only conduct mandatory consignment testing when required by formal agreement with the receiving country.”  While Vietnam had such agreements with Canada, Japan, South Korea, and the European Union, no such agreement existed with the United States.  In 2010, the Indian government informed the FDA that the type of testing done on seafood exported to the European Union could also be done on seafood to be exported to the United States if the FDA required that such shipments be accompanied by a health certificate.  While Japan and South Korea, in addition to the European Union, required health certificates with Indian seafood shipments, the United States does not.  In 2013, the government of Ecuador informed the FDA that the country’s drug residue plan was voluntary “except in cases where Ecuador has a formal agreement with another country.”  While Ecuador has such agreements with Argentina, Brazil, China, the European Union, and Russia, it has no such agreement with the United States.  The GAO explains, “[a]s a result, shrimp or tilapia that cannot be shipped to EU countries because of concerns about violative drug residues may be shipped to the United States.”
            Based on these findings, the GAO recommended that the FDA pursue formal agreements with countries exporting seafood to the United States.  In response, the FDA indicated that it “partially” agreed with the GAO.  Noting that the agency has not “received any requests to establish this type of arrangement,” the FDA asserted that “[f]actors outside the agency’s control . . . could limit robust implementation of this recommendation . . . .”  The agency concluded its discussion of the GAO’s recommendation by indicating that nothing was likely to change:  “FDA will continue to use its existing tools to ensure the safety of seafood imported into the United States and, in the event an arrangement is signed, may consider appropriate modifications.”
            “The question the GAO is asking is important:  if other countries say they are willing to do more to prevent their exporters from shipping shrimp contaminated with banned antibiotics to the U.S. market, why aren’t we taking them up on their offers?,” said John Williams, Executive Director of the Southern Shrimp Alliance.  “While we greatly appreciate the FDA’s increased scrutiny of shrimp imported into the U.S. market, the continued detection of banned antibiotics in these shipments demonstrates that there is more to be done.  Refusing to enter into bilateral agreements that foreign suppliers already are willing to commit to with other trading partners as a condition of access to their markets makes no sense and, worse, firmly establishes the United States as the dumping ground for contaminated shrimp produced around the world.”
Read the full GAO report here:  https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-443

New NIOSH Report: Gulf Shrimp Fleet the Safest

September 28th, 2017

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is the federal government agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. This includes generating data on casualties in the U.S. commercial fishing fleets.

 

For years the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Coast Guard have relied heavily on NIOSH data in developing statutory and regulatory safety requirements for the U.S. commercial fishing fleets.

 

Unfortunately, the data relied upon by many federal policymakers only presented the total number of casualties for each U.S. fishery without accounting for the different number of vessels, crewmembers and days fished in each fleet.

 

This led some policymakers to a number of incorrect conclusions including that the Gulf shrimp fleet was the most dangerous in the nation simply because it has the combination of more vessels fishing for more days with more crew than other fisheries.

 

For example, federal statutes and U.S. Coast Guard requirements pertaining to the design, construction and maintenance of new shrimp vessels have become cost prohibitive and do not reflect the true safety risks in this fishery. Consequently, few if any new offshore shrimp vessels are being built.   As the shrimp fleet continues to age, the perverse result of these onerous vessel design, construction and maintenance requirements is that the Gulf shrimp fleet is actually getting progressively less safe.

 

Over the past several years SSA has presented a series of arguments to the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) – and NIOSH itself – that such casualty data should be presented in the form of a casualty rate that reflects the size of the fleets, the size of the workforce and the number of days fished. In this way, policymakers can make a true and accurate assessment and comparison of the relative risks involved among different fleets and among different safety concerns within any given fleet.

 

To this point, SSA Executive Director John Williams stated: “Of course, safety comes first and we all want our shrimp boats and crewmembers to be as safe as possible. But, fisheries in the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico are all very different and face very different sea conditions and safety risks. We have to make sure our federal regulators understand what those differences are – and what the true risks and correct solutions are for each fishery.”

 

The new 2017 NIOSH report presents a 5-year update to its 2010 study of U.S. commercial fishing fatalities in order to identify current hazards among fisheries in four different regions of the country: Alaska, West Coast, East Coast, and the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Importantly, this new report also sets forth precisely the type of risk analysis SSA has been arguing for – based on the rate of casualties per Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) for each fleet. This type of rate-based analysis allows for an ‘apples-to-apples’ comparison among different U.S fishing fleets and also among different risk factors within each fleet.

 

The number of FTE’s for any given fleet was calculated as follows:

 

# Vessels × # Crew per Vessel × # Operating Days × 24 Hours

____________________________________________________________________

 

     2,000 Hours (standard 40-hour work week for the year)

 

Thus, the casualty rate for various fisheries was calculated as follows:

 

# Fatalities

________________  × 10,000 = # of Fatalities per 10,000 FTEs

 

   # of FTEs

 

Table 6 of the report goes on to state the following:

 

“Fatality rates were calculated for fleets that experienced five or more fatalities during a 10-year period (2005-2014) and where workforce estimates were available (Figure 6). For the Gulf of Mexico, workforce estimates were only available to calculate a fatality rate for the shrimp fleet. During 2005-2014, the Gulf of Mexico shrimp fleet experienced the highest number of fatalities in the nation, with 48 crewmember deaths. However, due to the large size of the workforce, during this period the Gulf of Mexico shrimp fleet had the nation’s lowest fatality rate among fleets where fatality rates were calculated.”

 

Williams added; “It was a pleasure working with NIOSH on this safety issue and I’m very pleased that after years of misunderstandings about the true safety issues in the Gulf shrimp fleet that have made it impossible for anyone to build a new offshore shrimp boat, this is a huge step in the right direction to getting our shipyards back to building modern shrimp trawlers. While we may be the safest fleet in the nation, every day shrimp boats are getting older and less safe. The regulatory situation has been completely upside-down and we will be taking this important new report to Congress and the Coast Guard in the coming months to try get this situation turned around.”

 

For the Gulf of Mexico report: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2017-174/pdf/2017-174.pdf

 

For all four of the regional reports: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/fishing/pubs.html

August Shrimp Landings Up from Last Year Despite Historic Lows in Florida and Mississippi

September 25th, 2017
This afternoon, NOAA’s Gulf of Mexico Data Management division released data providing information on August shrimp landings for the Gulf of Mexico.
For the month, over 16.7 million pounds of shrimp were reported as landed in the Gulf of Mexico, up from 14.2 million pounds in August of last year.  Total landings were 6.4 percent below the prior fifteen year historical average (17.9 million pounds).  Shrimp landings on the West Coast of Florida, 137,000 pounds, were the lowest reported for any August in the sixteen years of data compiled by the Southern Shrimp Alliance.  Shrimp landings in Mississippi, 591,000 pounds, were the second lowest reported for any August over that same timeframe.  In contrast, shrimp landings in Alabama, 2.5 million pounds, were the second highest for any August over the last sixteen years.
Through the first eight months of 2017, 65.9 million pounds of shrimp has been landed in the Gulf of Mexico.  This is the highest total reported since 2013, but still 8.4 percent below the prior fifteen year historical average (72.0 million pounds).  Louisiana has been the largest contributor to this year’s total, at 24.8 million pounds, followed by Texas at 22.1 million pounds, and then Alabama at an unprecedented level of 10.4 million pounds – a total that is 79.0 percent higher than the prior fifteen year historical average of 5.8 million pounds.
The ex-vessel pricing data reported by NOAA for August is unusual.  No prices were available from the west coast of Florida because of “Insufficient Dealers’ Reporting.”  Ex-vessel prices in the northern Gulf (Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi) significantly deteriorated across all count sizes compared to August 2016.  But the reported ex-vessel prices in the western Gulf (Texas) were substantially higher for all count sizes in August 2017 than they were in August 2016.
Please click the following link to view SSA’s compilation and summary of August 2002-2017 Shrimp Landings and Ex-Vessel Prices for August 2001-2017: http://www.shrimpalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/August-2017-Landings.pdf

Commercial Fishing Safety Advisory Committee Membership

September 20th, 2017

Good Day All,

Would you like to have an opportunity to have an influence on the safety regulations being proposed for the commercial fishing fleet?

“The U.S. Coast Guard seeks applications for membership on the Commercial Fishing Safety Advisory Committee. The Commercial Fishing Safety Advisory Committee provides advice and makes recommendations to the Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security on various matters relating to the safe operation of commercial fishing industry vessels. DATES: Completed applications should be submitted to the U.S. Coast Guard on or before November 20, 2017.”Read t

2017-Federal Register Notice on CFSAC Vacancies and Requirements for Applicants for 2018.

Regards,

Mr. Al Waterford, USCG (ret.)

Program Manager, Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety

Fishing and Passenger Vessel Examiner

United States Coast Guard

Sector St. Petersburg

Preventions Department

155 Columbia Dr.

Tampa, FL 33606

Tel #: (813) 228-2196, ext. #8136

Fax #: (813) 228-2399

For More Info Go To:

www.FishSafe.info

Commercial Fishing Vessel “Checklist Generator”

http://www.uscg.mil/d13/cfvs/DocksideExams/vFinal.swf

 

“As a maritime regulator, it is imperative we engage and keep pace with industry.  The Coast Guard will facilitate commerce – we will not impede it.”  – Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, Commandant

FDA Reports Antibiotic-Contaminated Shrimp Rejections in August

September 5th, 2017
After reporting no entry line refusals for shrimp contaminated with banned antibiotics in June and July, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued notice yesterday that refusals resumed in August.  The FDA released information regarding import refusals through August 25, 2017 indicating that 3 of the 172 (1.7%) total seafood entry line refusals were of shrimp for reasons related to banned antibiotics.  The FDA also issued public notice of sixty-one (61) additional seafood entry line refusals in the month of July, of which none were of shrimp contaminated with banned antibiotics.
For the year, the FDA has reported refusing a total of fifty (50) entry lines of shrimp for reasons related to banned antibiotics, an amount well off the pace of the 248 entry line refusal average of the last three years.
This decline in reported refusals is a troubling development as it comes at a time when shrimp imports from India, Vietnam, and China – countries that continue to be associated with widespread abuse of antibiotics in shrimp aquaculture – accounted for 42.7% of all frozen non-breaded shrimp imports over the first six months of this year.  Shrimp imports from these three countries have increased by 65.5 million pounds compared to the first half of 2016.  Because other major shrimp-importing markets have significantly stepped up enforcement of their food safety laws, this large growth in import volumes implies that the United States has once again become the world’s dumping ground for contaminated shrimp.

The three shrimp entry lines refused by the FDA for banned antibiotics in August were from China, Hong Kong, and Vietnam and were reported by two different FDA import divisions:
  • Ca Mau Seafood Processing & Service Joint Stock (Vietnam), a company that was added to Import Alert 16-124 for enrofloxacin in its shrimp on December 8, 2016 and, separately, for sulfamethizole in its shrimp on February 28, 2017, had one entry line refused for shrimp contaminated with veterinary drug residues by the Division of Northeast Imports on August 8, 2017;
  • Jimo Fengcheng Yinhai Aquatic Co  (China), a company that has not been exempted from Import Alert 16-131, had one entry line refused for shrimp contaminated with nitrofurans, veterinary drug residues, and an unsafe additive by the Division of West Coast Imports on August 1, 2017; and
  • Manwill Trading Company (Hong Kong), a company that is not currently listed on Import Alert 16-124, Import Alert 16-127, or Import Alert 16-129, had one entry line refused for shrimp contaminated with veterinary drug residues by the Division of Northeast Imports on August 14, 2017.

First Case of EMS Confirmed in the United States

August 30th, 2017
In April 2013, the Southern Shrimp Alliance sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), expressing three concerns:  (1) Are there any known human health implications for the consumption of shrimp contaminated with the microbe that causes early mortality syndrome (EMS)?; (2) What is known about the potential of EMS to spread to wild shrimp resources from aquaculture?; and (3) What is known about the potential for the microbe causing EMS to spread to U.S. shrimp farms?
The letter asked “what steps have been undertaken to protect US shrimp farms?” and “what steps has the US government taken to protect wild shrimp resources and the marine environment?”  The letter noted that “Ecuador and Mexico have both implemented bold measures to prevent any infected shrimp from entering their countries” and requested that the federal agencies “take the appropriate actions to protect our citizens and businesses as well.”
Responses from each agency were sent to the Southern Shrimp Alliance in June 2013.
For its part, the FDA asserted that “the most recent research indicates that EMS poses no human food safety risk” and that the “FDA believes that human food safety concerns related to EMS are minimal . . .”
All three agencies argued that there was little risk of disease transmission through frozen shrimp.
Commerce, through the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), stated that “EMS is not known to be present in the United States.”
Each of the letters acknowledged the severity of the threat posed to shrimp production by EMS and the USDA explained that it “is aware of the impact that a disease such as EMS could have if it were to become established in the United States.”
The USDA also observed that “following best management practices including biosecurity greatly reduces the risk of this or any number of water-borne aquaculture diseases spreading between farms, or from farms to wild shrimp resources.”  The USDA concluded its letter by promising that the agency “will continue to monitor new scientific findings about EMS as they emerge, and we will take these into account when determining what actions may be warranted to ensure the U.S. shrimp is protected.”
One week ago, on August 23rd, with little fanfare or publicity, the USDA notified the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) of the first documented case of acute hepatopancreatic necrosis disease (AHPND), or EMS, in the United States.  The USDA’s notice reported an outbreak of AHPND amongst pacific white shrimp (vannamei) at a “semi-closed” shrimp farm in Cameron County, Texas in June 2017, confirmed through laboratory tests in July.  The notification reported that the source of the outbreak or origin of infection was “unknown or inconclusive” and that the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Veterinary Services, along with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, were “conducting an epidemiological investigation of the event.”
The USDA’s report for the first time confirms that EMS has now been introduced into the United States.  It is unclear what steps, if any, have been undertaken by federal agencies to prevent the spread of the virus associated with AHPND/EMS, vibrio parahaemolyticus, beyond encouraging best management practices.
In contrast, other countries have begun to take aggressive measures to prevent the spread of disease from shrimp aquaculture operations.  For example, a July 14, 2017 report in Seafood Source observed that:  “Recently, six big importers – Australia, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, China, Brazil, and Mexico – have said they will only buy products with disease-free certification in accordance with World Organization for Animal Health regulations, or products recognized as free of diseases by their authorized agencies.”
Review the USDA’s August 23rd notification of the “first occurrence” of AHPND to the OIE here:  http://www.oie.int/wahis_2/public/wahid.php/Reviewreport/Review?page_refer=MapFullEventReport&reportid=24597
Read the Southern Shrimp Alliance’s April 24, 2013 letter to the USDA, Commerce, and FDA here: http://www.shrimpalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/SSA-ltr-to-USDA-DOC-FDA-final-4-24-13.pdf
Read NMFS’s June 4, 2013 letter to the Southern Shrimp Alliance here: http://www.shrimpalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/DOCletter-EMS.pdf
Read the FDA’s June 11, 2013 letter to the Southern Shrimp Alliance here: http://www.shrimpalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/FDA-response-on-EMS.pdf
Read the USDA’s June 12, 2013 letter to the Southern Shrimp Alliance here: http://www.shrimpalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/USDALetter-EMS.pdf
Read Mike Urch’s Vietnamese Shrimp Producers in Danger of Losing Export Markets, Seafood Source (July 14, 2017) here:  https://www.seafoodsource.com/commentary/vietnamese-shrimp-producers-in-danger-of-losing-export-markets

Federal Court Rejects National Fisheries Institute’s Challenge to Seafood Import Monitoring Program

August 30th, 2017

“In the end, the Rule weathers the storm of Plaintiffs’ various challenges.” 

 

This (ill-timed) metaphor concludes the decision issued on Monday by the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia rejecting the National Fisheries Institute’s (NFI) efforts to invalidate the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP).

 

In reality, as discussed extensively in the Court’s 67-page opinion, there wasn’t much to weather.

 

NFI’s suit asserted that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) was without authority to regulate seafood fraud, had failed to demonstrate the basis for its determination that certain species were at-risk, had inappropriately extended SIMP to encompass seafood imports produced through aquaculture, had provided insufficient time for importers to comply, and had made a series of technical errors in promulgating the program.  But the federal court found little merit in any of these arguments. The Court affirmed that the regulation of seafood fraud was well within the scope of NMFS’s authority as provided by Congress through the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and other authority.  The Court additionally found that the agency reasonably identified “priority” species to which the SIMP would be applied.  Moreover, the Court held that NMFS had “provided a reasoned explanation for why regulating farm-raised seafood promotes the Rule’s overarching regulatory goal of preventing IUU-caught and/or mislabeled seafood from entering the United States” and that the agency had already addressed NFI’s complaints regarding the compliance date of January 1, 2018, giving “a rational explanation for why that concern did not necessitate a different compliance date.”

 

Although the Court rejected most of NFI’s arguments out of hand, it agreed with the importers’ group and faulted NMFS for failing to release to the public the data utilized by the agency in identifying “at-risk” species.  However, the Court explained that merely observing that data should have been released was insufficient to warrant a reversal of the program.  Instead, parties challenging the rule are required to demonstrate that they “had something useful to say” about the undisclosed data that might have had some impact on the agency’s decision-making.  Rather than identify what NFI might have been able to contribute should data have been made available, the organization made only “vague claims” that were insufficient to show prejudice.

 

On the whole, the court’s decision represents a comprehensive affirmation of NMFS’s exhaustive work in designing and implementing the SIMP.  The Court recognized that the agency’s efforts to address comments from parties led NMFS to acknowledge that its early estimation of the compliance costs for the seafood importing industry was too low.  At the same time, the Court also recognized that the intent of the “increased scrutiny” of imported seafood was to “reduce the incentives to engage in IUU fishing over time” and that “by reducing the amount of illegally caught seafood in the U.S. market, domestic fishermen would be able to compete on a level playing field and reap the attendant financial benefits.”

 

“The court’s decision shows that knee-jerk opposition to any regulation of seafood imports is no longer tenable,” said John Williams, executive director of the Southern Shrimp Alliance.  “Everyone in this industry is aware of the regulatory gaps that have been unapologetically exploited by seafood importers for years to the detriment of U.S. consumers and U.S. seafood producers.  Our industry operates under intense regulatory burdens that, among other things, require us to be accountable and provide traceability for the shrimp we land.  It’s well past time that we expect the same from imports.”

 

Mr. Williams added, ”Having successfully defended the program in federal court, NMFS should now lift the administrative stay and make the monitoring program applicable to shrimp imports.  To that point, SSA reiterates its appreciation for the consistent efforts of many Gulf and South Atlantic Senators led by Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) to communicate to the Administration their full support for the SIMP program overall and for the lifting of the administrative stay on shrimp as reported in previous New Alerts.”

 

Read the full memorandum opinion issued in Alfa International Seafood v. United States, Case No. 1:17-cv-00031 (D.D.C. Aug. 28, 2017) here: https://ecf.dcd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2017cv0031-87

 

Review the Southern Shrimp Alliance prior News Alert, Solid Senate Support for Combatting Illegal Shrimp Imports (May 11, 2017): http://www.shrimpalliance.com/solid-senate-support-for-combatting-illegal-shrimp-imports/

 

Senate Shrimp Supporters Move to Protect U.S. Shrimpers from Illegal Imports

August 30th, 2017

SSA thanks and congratulates Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), powerful Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, for once again championing the best interests of the domestic shrimp industry by including a provision in his FY 2018 Appropriations bill to ensure that the federal Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) will cover all shrimp imports.   This provision was also shepherded by the Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL); also a very longtime and tireless champion of the Gulf shrimp industry.

 

The SIMP program is specifically designed to require importers of record to provide to the U.S. government, and keep records of, data documenting that seafood imports were lawfully produced, and that the integrity of each shipment is maintained by each entity throughout the chain of custody until entered into U.S. commerce. Adopted in December 2016, the program is due to go into effect in January 2018. SSA has worked extensively in support of the development and implementation of this program since 2014 when it was identified as part of the President’s Task Force on Combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud.

 

However, under the previous Administration an administrative stay was placed on the application of the SIMP program to all shrimp imports in fear that major shrimp exporting nations such as China would retaliate through a challenge under the World Trade Organization (WTO). Since then, SSA has been working continuously with Congress and the Trump Administration in cooperation with the American Shrimp Processors Association and other stakeholders to have this stay lifted. This legislation reflects a major step forward in this effort.

 

“We cannot thank Senators Cochran and Shelby enough for their extraordinary efforts to ensure the survival of the domestic shrimp fishery in the face of what has been an endless stream of illegal shrimp imports. The scale and scope of fraud associated with the $5 billion per year shrimp import supply chain transcends that of any other seafood import. It is absolutely essential to the survival of our industry for this program to be in place next year to combat the onslaught of illegal imports”, said SSA Executive Director, John Williams.

 

The legislation comes on the heels of another major initiative by a contingent of U.S. “shrimp State” Senators to urge Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to take whatever administrative action he can to lift the stay on shrimp imports under the SIMP program. That initiative has been led by Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA); yet another staunch defender of the shrimp industry. As was reported in a previous SSA News Alert, the second of two letters championed by Senator Cassidy was sent to Secretary Ross by eleven powerful U.S. Senators in April.

http://www.shrimpalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/SSA-News-Alert-Senate-letter__-Shrimp-Import-Monitoring-Program-Final-5-11-17.pdf

Yet another similar letter was sent by Senator Bill Neslon (D-FL) to Secretary Ross in May.

 

“As I’ve said many times before, SSA is convinced that the seafood import traceability program is among the most promising tools for combatting widespread fraud in the shrimp import supply chain, the continued use of dangerous antibiotics on foreign shrimp farms, and the well-documented incidences of IUU fishing, human trafficking and other labor abuses in foreign shrimp industries.”, added Williams, “We know just how blessed we are that the Senators like Senators Cochran and Shelby and others who know and understand our industry, as well as Secretary Ross and other key Administration officials, are committed to a strong trade policy that will protect U.S. consumers and our industry from these illegal, costly and disgraceful practices”.



Media Contact Information:

Deborah Long
804.360.0074
Deborah@Cohesive
Communications.com

Twitter: @ShrimpAlliance

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