US seafood imports at record high
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