US seafood im­ports at record high

Fish Farmer - - World News -

AMER­I­CANS ate more im­ported seafood last year than at any time in the past, new fig­ures show.

The Na­tional Oceanic At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion (NOAA), which mon­i­tors and reg­u­lates the na­tion’s fish­ing and aqua­cul­ture sec­tor, said seafood im­ports hit record lev­els in 2017.

The to­tal vol­ume was six bil­lion pounds, worth $21.5 bil­lion. Con­versely, the US ex­ported 3.6 bil­lion pounds of fish and fish­ery prod­ucts worth $6 bil­lion.

Amer­i­cans have been in­creas­ing their con­sump­tion of high value seafood such as Nor­we­gian sal­mon over the past year and two UK com­pa­nies, Seachill and Young’s, have suc­cess­fully en­tered the mar­ket sell­ing Bri­tish seafood favourites.

But the US ad­min­is­tra­tion has been ac­tively work­ing to cut down on im­ports of all types – hence the talks of a trade war.

It is be­ing re­ported that the com­merce sec­re­tary, Wil­bur Ross, who heads the fed­eral agency that in­cludes NOAA, has iden­ti­fied re­duc­ing the deficit as a pri­or­ity for the gov­ern­ment.

Se­nior politi­cians in Oslo are also qui­etly wor­ried that a more ag­gres- sive ‘Amer­ica first’ pol­icy could even­tu­ally af­fect its ex­ports to the US.

It is thought to be one rea­son why Nor­we­gian aqua­cul­ture com­pa­nies have be­gun in­vest­ing heav­ily in North Amer­ica with new fish farm projects.

These in­clude plans by Nordic Aqua­farms to build one of the world’s largest land based sal­mon farms in Belfast, Maine.

Mean­while, as the trade war be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Bei­jing hots up, China has said it will im­pose a 25 per cent tar­iff on US seafood ex­ports, which is wor­ry­ing ma­jor fish­ing states such as Alaska.

But Na­tional Fish­eries In­sti­tute spokesman Gavin Gib­bons has urged cau­tion by Wash­ing­ton, say­ing: ‘While US fish­er­men would love to grow its com­mer­cial fish­eries, it is im­por­tant to note that do­mes­tic and im­ported seafood are both im­por­tant parts of the sup­ply chain and sup­port thou­sands of Amer­i­can jobs.’

There was not enough fish in US wa­ters to meet cur­rent de­mand, he ar­gued.

Above: Gavin Gib­bons

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