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CITAC Shrimp Task Force

CITAC/ASDA Shrimp Task Force Calls For Release of NOAA Report on U.S. Shrimp Industry

In October 2003, The Wave News reported that the National Marine Fisheries Service (now referred to as NOAA Fisheries) planned to release by the end of 2003 a study “analyzing options for restructuring the domestic southern shrimp industry.” The article stated that the release of the report was being delayed “after fears were raised that it would compromise industry efforts to file an anti-dumping petition against foreign imports.” That petition was filed in December 2003, but the report has still not appeared. Instead it has reportedly been sent to the Department of Commerce’s office that handles antidumping investigations for further review.

Despite efforts to prevent release of the report, NOAA Fisheries last year, apparently inadvertently, released two chapters of the report on the Internet. It appears that U.S. government officials responsible for analyzing the shrimp industry obtained much of their information through a series of roundtable meetings and seminars with shrimpers. The excerpts of the report indicate that U.S. shrimpers lack competitiveness primarily because they face very high costs of production. Simply put: NOAA has found that there are too many U.S. shrimpers chasing too few shrimp and that conditions in the domestic industry will not improve unless, and until, this problem is addressed.

Seven policy options are analyzed in the NOAA report as a means of reducing the costs of production incurred by shrimpers. Included among those seven policy options are price support programs, permit/license moratoriums, and a government buyback program to retire a significant portion of the shrimp fleet. NOAA’s economists have concluded that government support will produce only a short-term fix as the industry is facing long-term structural problems. These problems have nothing to do with imports, nor can they be cured by taxing imports.

The Department of Commerce refuses to release the NOAA report, despite Freedom of Information Act requests.

The CITAC Shrimp Task Force calls on the Department of Commerce to release this report. Policymakers need to have all the facts before them when making decisions that may cost Americans jobs and millions of dollars in new food taxes.