Dear Administrator Sullivan:
We were pleased to learn that the People's Republic of China has lifted the ban on importing shellfish from the West Coast of the United States. To resume trade, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) must finalize monitoring, sampling and certification protocols as requested by the People's Republic of China. We urge NOAA to finalize these monitoring protocols swiftly in a collaborative manner with tribes, industry and other stakeholders to allow exports to resume immediately. Furthermore, we ask NOAA provide greater clarification about whether China's agreement will extend to all shellfish products.
On December 3, 2013, The People's Republic of China banned all imports of shellfish from the U.S. including geoduck clams. The shellfish industry supports thousands of jobs and generates more than $270 million annually in Washington state alone. The geoduck industry is of particular concern because prior to the ban, 90 percent of Puget Sound geoduck was exported to the People's Republic of China.
Public health and consumer safety are of primary concern for both governments. We believe it is equally important that the health and safety standards and testing procedures be scientifically sound and transparent. NOAA, the United States Trade Representative, the United States Department of Agriculture, states, tribes and industry have worked together to demonstrate that U.S. shellfish exports meet the food safety requirements for the People's Republic of China.
Due to the trade ban, many shellfish businesses have faced a disruption in their sales and experienced significant uncertainty about their ability to serve a major export market. We urge NOAA to expeditiously work to finalize protocols so trade can resume, supporting shellfish jobs on the West Coast. We appreciate your diligence in this important matter.