Ban would boost US catfish market

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
11 May 2007, at 1:00am

US - A ban on Chinese catfish, on the grounds that it may contain or not be produced to US standards illegal antibiotics, would boost America's beleagured catfish sector.

US Farmers have been struggling to stay afloat in a flood of competition from Asian aquaculture. Imports of Chinese catfish reportedly doubled in the US last year, making life increasingly difficult for US catfish producers in souther states.

Hopes have been raised since Mississippi’s Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner, Lester Spell, ordered Chinese catfish to be taken off retail shelves when a number of samples tested positive for antibiotics that are banned in the US.

A group of southern Senators, led by Republicans Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby are currently tackling an amendment to the prescription drug safety bill that authorises the Department of Health and Human Services to inspect seafood for antibiotics and other contaminants already banned by the FDA. Their concern over public health is heartening the US catfish and seafood industries.

Unacceptable Asian techniques

Reports in Louisiana’s press say that apart from the antibiotic threat, Asian catfish are often raised in "latrine ponds" - the Chinese system of disposal for human and other waste into ponds used to raise fish.

By contrast, American fish farmers raise catfish in ponds in the Mississipi Delta that “produce clean, white-fleshed fish and low environmental impact.

Also domestic catfish log far fewer food miles than Asian product, an issue that is of increasing concern to consumers.

Consumers are now being urged to buy US produced product, which may be more expensive, but better value in terms of health and the environmental.