Monday, August 14, 2017

Watermen Want Catfish Regulation Reform

A local fisheries association and the Maryland’s governor’s office are seeking relief of federal regulations they say would have adverse impacts on the state’s burgeoning catfish industry. Furthermore, since blue catfish are an invasive species that likes to eat the Bay’s native species, a drop in the blue catfish industry in the Chesapeake Bay could produce more adverse impacts than revenue loss.

Capt. Rob Newberry, chairman of the Delmarva Fisheries Association, was at the Talbot County Council meeting Tuesday night, Aug. 8, presenting an economic impact analysis of Talbot County fisheries when the topic came up.

Newberry said federal regulations going into effect Sept. 1 would require the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to inspect catfish at processing plants and wholesalers. Newberry said the inspection of catfish issue came up in the 2008 farm bill, when a Mississippi congressman added language that states the inspection of foreign catfish needs to be mandated.
Basically, this regulation came about as protectionism for aquaculture catfish farming, after a very strong media campaign to demonize foreign caught and/or farm raised catfish.
In 2014, the Barack Obama administration included domestic catfish in the inspection mandate, but as of a FSIS meeting a few weeks ago, Newberry said the federal government doesn’t plan to increase inspections of imported seafood, and a vast majority of it already is not inspected.

The Food and Drug Administration already inspects domestic catfish, Newberry said. Newberry said any further mandated inspections from a different agency will cause the price of catfish to rise, and the DFA doesn’t want to see any regulation that would hurt the consumption of the invasive blue catfish species to the Bay.

“They are ravenous, man,” Newberry said, adding that in a purge study, they found baby ducks, baby geese, baby muskrats, crabs, clams, oyster shells and eels in the stomachs of catfish. “Anything you can find in a river or a marsh, they’re eating it. They’re bad news, and if we don’t do something with them, they’re going to overrun the Bay by 2025.”
Which is pretty much a description of any catfish, who aren't generally noted for their discriminating palates. But Blue Cats get pretty big, and can stuff more in that mouth.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration has joined the cause and also sent a letter to UDSA Secretary Perdue, asking for “immediate regulatory relief” from the mandated inspection program for the wild-caught, U.S. catfish industry.

“With the U.S. seafood trade deficit reaching historic proportions, strict harvest limits on most other wild seafood species, and traditional U.S. seafood jobs on the decline, the (Trump) Administration must provide every possible advantage to Americans seeking to invest in the business of wild-caught, domestic catfish,” Hogan wrote in the letter dated Tuesday, Aug. 8.

Hogan wrote that American consumers increasingly are demanding wild, domestic seafood, and catfish is among that. The “seafood market for catfish in the Maryland/Virginia/D.C. region has grown from zero to millions of pounds sold in just a few years,” the letter reads.

Hogan wrote that the commercial growth of the catfish industry is being made possible in the Chesapeake Bay watershed by the invasive blue catfish species.
I was unconvinced by the arguments  made in favor of the added inspections on catfish that are not carried out on a number of other species. Rid of the regulation.

Wombat-socho has both "Rule 5 Sunday: OUTRAGE!" up on time and within budget.

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