Congresswoman Roybal–Allard on US Department of Agriculture proposed rule on “catfish”

On Friday February 18, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a proposed rule that could lead to the imported Asian fish pangasius being subjected to a new inspection regime.

The Department seeks comment on the rule which resulted from a 2008 Farm Bill provision, inserted at the behest of the domestic catfish industry, which makes catfish the only seafood to be inspected by USDA; all other seafood continues to be safely inspected by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Seafood importers insist that should the USDA define pangasius as catfish and include it in the final rule, the resulting new inspection requirements would act as a de facto trade barrier.

“In finalizing its rule, the USDA must consider very carefully the impact of the definition of ‘catfish’ on seafood jobs in my district and state and the future of trade with places like Vietnam.  We can’t afford to put jobs in California’s ports and seafood processing plants at risk.”  The Congresswoman urged the Obama Administration to “carefully consider the negative impacts of an overly broad definition of catfish as the USDA considers the jurisdiction of the Office of Catfish Inspection.”

The USDA announced their rule here. USDA will continue gathering data over the 120 day comment period before determining which species fall under the new requirements.

Source: Pangasius Vietnam

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