‘Unprecedented’: China bans all imports of shellfish from U.S. West Coast — Official: “They’ve never done anything like that that I’ve ever seen” — Includes Washington, Oregon, Alaska and N. California — Gov’t says it will continue indefinitely
December 13th, 2013
KUOW, Dec. 13, 2013: China Imposes First-Ever West Coast Shellfish Ban [...] China has suspended imports of shellfish from the west coast of the United States — an unprecedented move [...] China said it decided to impose the ban after recent shipments of geoduck clams from Northwest waters were found by its own government inspectors to have high levels of arsenic and a toxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning. The restriction took effect last week and China’s government says it will continue indefinitely. It applies to clams, oysters and all other two-shelled bivalves harvested from the waters of Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Northern California. [...] “It’s had an incredible impact,” said George Hill, the geoduck harvest coordinator for Puget Sound’s Suquamish Tribe. “A couple thousand divers out of work right now.” [...] Officials say the investigation is ongoing but the closure could last for months.
Northwest Public Radio, Dec. 13, 2013: China has closed its doors to all imports of West coast shellfish. Chinese officials tested samples of geoduck clams and found elevated levels of arsenic and a toxin that causes Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning. [...] Jerry Borchert is in charge of monitoring toxins in shellfish for the Washington Department of Health. He says China’s actions are unusual. [...] “They’ve never done anything like that that I’ve ever seen since I’ve been here where they would not allow shellfish from this entire area based on potentially two areas or maybe just one area, we don’t really know yet.” Last year the U.S. exported more than half a billion dollars worth of shellfish – with China as its biggest customer. [...] There’s no telling when China will lift its import ban, but shellfish on the market in the U.S. are safe to eat.
The Olympian, Nov. 24, 2013: [...] Fans of razor clams will have plenty of opportunities to dig if tests show clams are safe to eat. A weeklong dig is scheduled to begin Saturday at four beaches. [...] In response to questions from diggers, the state said that in tests done to date, no fish or shellfish off the Pacific coast have radioactive contamination that would pose a risk to people who eat them. Dan Ayres, the coastal shellfish manager for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said he has heard from people that razor clams might be contaminated with radioactive material from the damaged nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan. [...] The Health Department has test albacore tuna caught in the waters off the Pacific coast, one from before the Fukushima disaster and one caught after. In addition, the department has tested one salmon, one steelhead, as well as razor clams and other shellfish after the Fukushima disaster. [...]