China Urged to Renew Imports of Alaska Shellfish

China is being asked to lift its recent ban on importing
geoduck clams, a prized Chinese delicacy, from the waters of Southeast Alaska
and the Pacific Northwest.
Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, made the request Dec. 17 in a
letter to Chinese Ambassador to the United States Tiankai Cui, noting that
testing by state agencies in Alaska and Washington found the geoduck clams well
within acceptable limits for paralytic shellfish toxin and inorganic arsenic.
The state of Alaska was notified on Dec. 5 that China would
ban imports of geoduck clams and other similar shellfish due to reports that
samples of product from Southeast Alaska and the Pacific Northwest tested
higher than acceptable for limits on PST and inorganic arsenic.
Begich chairs the Senate Interparliamentary Council on
China, and also chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries
and the Cost Guard. He said he is keenly interested in Alaska-China trade
issues, especially those involving Alaska seafood.

Begich urged Cui to address the matter immediately and work
to resolve the conflicting test results so that the commercial shellfish trade
could resume as soon as possible. He also urged seafood inspectors with the state,
Food and Drug Administration and National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration to cooperate with inspectors from the People’s Republic of China
to ensure that they had information needed to lift the ban.