Shellfish growers on the US west coast are relieved that China has decided to lift its ban on the import of bivalve molluscs from the region, a policy that had cost some segments of the industry significant sums.
The ban, which did not affect shipments from Canada, was announced toward the end of last year and immediately affected shellfish exports targeted for the Chinese New Year. Geoducks were at the centre of the moratorium, imposed after Chinese inspectors rejected two shipments: one from Poverty Bay, Washington, because of unacceptable levels of inorganic arsenic, and one from Ketchikan, Alaska, that had unacceptable levels of the algal toxin causing paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP).
The ban, which was lifted late in May, unquestionably caused difficulties for US exporters, but a spokesperson for the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association (PCSGA) said it was mostly geoduck growers and harvesters who were affected.
PCSGA Executive Director Margaret Pilaro Barrette said she was not aware of anybody in her area shipping shellfish other than geoducks to China, prior to the ban.
Almost all exports of the high-value, dive-harvested geoduck go to China and Barrette said new testing and research is now going into ensuring that there are no more incidents in future.
Barette confirmed that members of the PCSGA were relieved to have the situation resolved and to be assured by NOAA that new inspection protocols will be implemented to meet Chinese requirements. She has been informed that the Chinese plan to send a delegation to look at US procedures sometime in the fall.
– Quentin Dodd