In an unprecedented move to safeguard the health of its people, China has issued a ban on the import of U.S. west coast shellfish. The ban was imposed after inspection of recent shipments of geoduck clams from northwest waters, revealed high levels of arsenic and a toxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning. The ban applies to clams, oysters and other two-shelled bivalves harvested from waters off Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Northern California.
The geoduck clam is the world’s largest burrowing clam, that can slowly grow up to 10 pounds over as much as 100 years. Geoduck clams are highly valued in China, where they can sell for retail prices of $100 to $150 per pound. Most of the U.S. geoduck clam exports come from west coast waters and in 2012 yielded 68 million dollars in business. Unfortunately, 90% of that business is from exports to China. When considering all the other shellfish included in the ban, this places the U.S. shellfish industry in serious jeopardy.
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