Several proposed regulations and legal decisions to be made in 2016 threaten to harm U.S. shrimp fishermen and processors. The impacts range from added expenses to meet new safety regulations, to time/area closures, to revocation of the antidumping duty orders. The Southern Shrimp Alliance’s Board of Directors met in Tampa, Florida on November 6th and 7th to discuss these issues with government officials and other industry experts.
For many years, SSA has worked diligently to cultivate cooperative relationships with the industry’s many regulatory bodies. By presenting science-based, reasoned information, SSA has opened doors once closed to the industry. The value of the relationships were demonstrated at the 2015 Board Meeting, in which industry representatives were able to directly question guest speakers responsible for implementing costly rules on vessel safety, enforcing TED compliance, implementing potential time/area closures, targeting illegal imports, preventing short-weights and other fraud, and other programs involving the shrimp industry.
Walter Hoppe and Al Waterford of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Alternative Safety Compliance Program presented information on the implementation of rules designed to increase the safety of shrimping vessels. They fielded almost an hour of intense questioning about a draft matrix of Regional Best Practices & Fishery-Specific Requirements that could add significant costs to purchasing and maintaining shrimp vessels in the future.
The Assistant Director of NOAA/NMFS Office of Law Enforcement, Tracy Dunn, discussed efforts to enforce TED compliance through dockside visits; use state and U.S. Coast Guard officers to enhance at-sea enforcement; establish consistent inspection techniques through standardized procedures; new compliance measures for red snapper bycatch; ongoing efforts to address seafood fraud; and, the use of the Lacey Act to prosecute false labeling. With both NMFS OLE and U.S. Coast Guard officials in the room, shrimpers were able to discuss particular challenges , such as damage to TEDs by shark bites on nets, faced in their operations.
Dr. Roy Crabtree, the Southeast Regional Administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service, spoke about the implications under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of observed dolphin takes by shrimpers, an issue SSA will follow as it develops in 2016. He then addressed litigation brought by environmental groups against the most recent biological opinion regarding sea turtles. He fielded a variety of questions about management of the shrimp industry, including the possible effects on shrimpers of legislative proposals to move management of the direct red snapper fishery from federal to state authorities. SSA has secured language in the relevant bills that it believes will protect the shrimp industry from undue regulation if such changes are made.
Richard Edert, an International Trade Specialist with the ADCVD National Targeting and Analysis group of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, updated SSA on developments regarding enforcement of the antidumping duty orders on shrimp. Mr. Edert’s work has facilitated federal agency efforts to prevent Chinese shrimp from evading AD duties, such that Chinese shrimp imports now constitute less than 1% of shrimp imports. He has also provided investigatory and analytical support to more recent efforts to target Malaysian companies that transship shrimp to bypass trade laws and food safety import alerts. His efforts have been instrumental in preventing millions of pounds of illegal shrimp imports from entering the U.S. market and distorting domestic shrimp prices. In appreciation of his work with our industry, SSA presented Mr. Edert with the organization’s inaugural “Person of the Year” award!
The Board also heard presentations on the mechanics of state government regulation of weights and measures from Hal Prince, a Field Administrator at the Bureau of Standards in Florida; on trawl winch safety and on-board safety generally from Chelsea Woodward, an engineering technician with the Commercial Fishing Safety Research and Design Program CDC, NIOSH; and, on bycatch workshop results from Frank Helies and Gary Graham of the Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Foundation.
Updates on the multitude of regulatory issues, legislative issues, and the Presidential Task Force on Combating IUU Fishing and Seafood Fraud were presented by SSA’s lobbyist. SSA’s legal counsel addressed import volumes and pricing trends and the surge in findings of antibiotics on imported shrimp. Of importance is the upcoming sunset review of the antidumping orders, which has the potential to remove all duties on imported shrimp and will need to be aggressively defended, starting in the spring of 2016, with strong support of the entire U.S. shrimp industry.
For a quick summary of the most pressing issues that face shrimpers in 2016, please look for SSA’s quarterly newsletter issued at the end of the month. Members will receive a copy via email and hard copies will be available at docks. Also, SSA will resume “Town Hall Meetings” throughout 2016 to provide updates on the important issues confronting the industry likely to unfold over the next year.