Tuesday, November 6, 2018

World’s biggest seafood importer tightens seal protections

by Mike Forbes, Ace Aquatec, Scotland

“If salmon farmers want to export to the US they must stop killing seals – no ifs, no buts, no bullets.”

These words from animal welfare campaign group Scottish Salmon Watch may be intentionally provocative, but at the core, they’re accurate. New import regulations being implemented by the Trump administration are going to have a big impact on fish farms that export to the United States. From January 1, 2022 America will only import sea food from countries who can demonstrate no marine mammals, including seals, are killed in their farming operations.

These changes are understandably causing a stir in many of the world’s biggest fish producing countries. The Scottish salmon industry recently had a petition for exemption from the regulations turned down and like other nations they are now facing a future where the financial cost of shooting a seal has never been higher.

What is the new regulation?
The exact regulation prompting these changes is the Import Provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). Its stated aim is to, “address intentional mortality and serious injury of marine mammals in fisheries that export fish and fish products to the United States.” In short, the US wants all nations they import from to be held to at least the same standards as American fish farmers.

The Import Provisions Rule has been in effect since January 1 2017, but with a five-year phased implementation plan. By January 1 2022, any fish-harvesting nation wishing to sell into the US market must have been approved to continue to export fish and fish products.

Global impact

When US international policy shifts direction, even in small ways, the consequences can be substantial and far-reaching – a lesson the global seafood industry will soon experience first-hand.

As the world’s largest importer of seafood – the US buys $20.6bn of seafood produce every year – farmers in many countries rely on this market for a significant portion of their sales. With farmed salmon being their second biggest import (shrimp is the first biggest import), global salmon farmers are amongst those with most at risk from the upcoming regulatory crackdown on seal killing.

Whether you’re a country like Scotland and Chile that have the US as their top salmon export destination (32% of Scottish salmon exports in 2017), or more like Norway where the US only accounts for seven percent of their exports (but up 31% versus last year), there’s still hundreds of millions of pounds at risk of disappearing overnight.

Read more HERE.

The Aquaculturists
This blog is maintained by The Aquaculturists staff and is supported by the
magazine International Aquafeed which is published by
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