Vitter Introduces Seafood Safety Amendment to Budget
U.S. Sen. David Vitter today introduced an amendment to the Senate Budget Resolution that would protect domestic seafood producers and enhance the safety of imported seafood. The amendment would allow for legislation that would require tougher inspection and testing requirements for imported seafood products to ensure that imported seafood products do not contain chemicals, antibiotics or any substances that are banned in the United States. Vitter's amendment would also seek to end "port shopping," a practice used by many importers who attempt to bring rejected shipments of seafood into another port, by allowing for legislation to prevent the import of seafood that has been previously rejected for admission.
"Seafood from the Gulf serves as the backbone of Louisiana's unique cuisine," Vitter said. "Given the importance of seafood to our state, I believe that seafood imported from other countries should be held to the highest standards. We need to not only prevent the movement of substandard seafood through Louisiana's ports, but also go one step further and prevent individuals from attempting to import rejected shipments at another port."
Currently, an average time of 348 days elapses between the rejection of a shipment by the FDA and the notification of port-of-entry officials. Vitter's amendment would allow legislation stating that ports should be notified within five days of a shipment having been rejected in order to allow them to flag similar shipments from that importer or country.
"If a shipment of seafood is rejected by officials at a local port, current notification procedures are too slow to effectively prevent that cargo from being routed to another facility," said Vitter. "Those shipments should be clearly labeled as having been refused entry by the government to prevent offenders from shopping for an additional point of entry."
Vitter's amendment also seeks to improve the enforcement of our trade laws by allowing for legislation that would increase the collection of antidumping duties that are assessed on imported seafood products. Between 2003 and 2008, more than $560 million in antidumping duties owed on imported seafood products went uncollected. 70 percent of the duties owed on imported seafood between 2003 and 2008 were not paid, with China as one of the biggest offenders.
Vitter serves as a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which oversees issues relating to fisheries and trade.