SHELTON, Wash. - Chinese health officials are not budging on a ban of shellfish from a huge section of the West Coast of the United States.
They imposed the ban after a shipment of geoduck tested positive for paralytic shellfish poison and elevated levels of arsenic.
Federal and state lawmakers have been working on their connections in China to get parts of the ban lifted. They argue the shipment in question came from two small areas, and the entire region is being punished.
The ban also does not draw an important distinction between types of geoducks.
Bill Dewy with Taylor Shellfish in Shelton points out the problem shipment involved wild geoduck. Taylor’s, and most of the state’s exports, are farmed geoduck.
The ban isn’t just for geoducks. All West Coast double shelled aquatics animals are banned, including clams and oysters.
Dewey is hopeful Chinese and U.S. officials can settle the issue soon, but the timing is bad because the shellfish industry depends on the holiday season for a big boost to their imports.
Taylor Shellfish is fortunate because half of its geoducks are exported to other states. But Dewey worries for others in the industry and the effects on the economy.
Each year, Washington State sends about 4,000 tons of geoducks, worth $64 million, overseas, mostly to China.