NFI Sues NOAA Over New Seafood Fraud Import Rules Claiming Regulatory Overreach
The National Fisheries Institute, six major seafood companies, and two West Coast Associations sued the Obama Administration over the final US Rule regarding seafood import regulations in federal district court on Friday, Jan 6th. The NFI's lawsuit claims that the new rule is not based on a risk assessment with data about seafood fraud, but without evidence will impose enormous and unjustified costs on the American public and the seafood industry. NFI President John Connelly said NOAA's proposed rule “grossly underestimates the cost and impact of the regulation on those companies doing the right thing, and will not solve the problem. NOAA’s fundamental shift from targeted investigation of the suspected guilty to arbitrary and massive data collection from the innocent creates an enormous economic burden on American companies.”
Oregon Dungeness crabbers and processors agreed Friday afternoon to a compromise ex-vessel price of $2.875 per pound. This will enable Oregon fishermen to get back on the water or to set their gear for the first time. The settlement came out of the fifth round of state-supervised price talks between fishermen and processors since November. This series was one of the longest and toughest series of negotiations, lasting seven days in total reports Susan Chambers.
In other news, live lobster prices continue to rise with inventories limited because of limited production out of Nova Scotia coupled with high demand ahead of the Chinese New Year. Bad weather in Nova Scotia's highly productive fishing areas 33 and 34 has sharply reduced the number of days that the province's fishermen have been able to operate.
Meanwhile, former state Wildlife and Fisheries secretary Robert Barham denied allegations that he and other members of the department misspent and were fiscally irresponsible with the BP oil spill money the state was paid during the crisis. Barham's comments were in response to accusations made by Charlie Melancon, the former head of Wildlife and Fisheries who recently resigned from the position. “It was a crisis like no other, and there was no manual on how to deal with the BP spill,” Barham said. “We were concerned on how to recapture market share (for Louisiana seafood) we were losing by the hour.”
Finally, Alaska's House Special Committee on Fisheries will focus on sustainability and how the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and others are contributing to it. Specifically, the committee will focus on how money is being spent in the state agency and will determine what ongoing studies and more are contributing to sustainability. “Fisheries is the largest private employer in the state, a huge resource for the state of Alaska,” said Committee Chair Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak. “I don’t think people realize the impact, and they need to understand that, whether you live in Fairbanks, Kodiak or wherever. There isn’t a community in the state that fisheries doesn’t somehow touch."
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