U.S. Senator Mark Begich welcomed word today that his work to lift the Chinese ban on importing geoducks was getting results.
In a phone call to congressional staffers, Paul Doremus, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Operations for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said NOAA food safety and other officials met with their counterparts in Beijing on March 21 and explained their testing protocols and methodologies. They came away optimistic about the next steps needed to resolve the dispute and have the ban lifted.
Notably, Chinese officials said they were satisfied with testing protocols for paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) in Alaska. Work remains to be done to reach agreement on the sampling and testing methodology for inorganic arsenic, an issue affecting imports from the Pacific Northwest.
"Alaska has always been proud about the quality and safety of our seafood products and the Chinese ban caught us as an unexpected surprise," Begich said. "I am pleased that NOAA officials took action on this as I requested and I am hopeful of a quick resolution to this matter. While a small sector of our seafood exports, geoducks are very important to dive fishermen in Southeast Alaska and the state's reputation for safe and quality seafood needs to be defended."
Begich wrote Chinese Ambassador CUI Tiankai after imposition of the ban last year urging their cooperation with our federal and state food safety officials to resolve any differences and lift the import ban. He is pleased by today's announcement from NOAA officials and believes the restoration of normal geoduck trade between Alaska and China is on the horizon.