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Graves and Castor Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Ensure the Availability of Healthy and Safe American Shrimp

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representatives Garret Graves (Louisiana) and Kathy Castor (Florida) introduced legislation to stop unsafe, illegally-produced shrimp from reaching consumers. Much of the shrimp that flood the U.S. market are foreign, farmed seafood packed with illegal antibiotics or are products of illegal fishing operations. These low-quality and illegally-sourced shrimp are sold at artificially low prices, squeezing out American shrimpers who follow all the rules to keep our fisheries—and our health—safe.

The bill provides funding to the Food and Drug Administration to ensure that shrimp in the United States are free of illegal chemicals, safe for human consumption, and not supplied using illegal fishing practices. The legislation also builds upon Graves’ previously successful efforts to give the United States Department of Agriculture the authority to purchase domestic shrimp to supply our schools, food banks, and disaster relief programs.

“From foreign shrimp dumping to skyrocketing energy costs and Hurricane Ida, Louisiana’s shrimpers have been hit by both man-made and natural disasters. Shrimp packed with illegal antibiotics cannot be allowed to take over our market, and it’s unacceptable to be okay with anyone consuming a lower-quality product that puts their health at risk. This is an avoidable hardship for one of Louisiana’s biggest economic drivers and that’s why we are pushing this legislation,” Graves said.

“The Gulf of Mexico shrimping industry supplies the State of Florida with a healthy food source and sustains good-paying jobs – from boat crews to processing teams to distributors. However, American shrimpers are under stress from foreign producers and environmental changes. The flood of foreign-raised shrimp from China and other countries has saturated the market with shrimp that is often tainted with illegal antibiotics. Shrimping is integral to the Gulf’s culture and a source of pride for helping to feed the U.S. military, the food insecure and seafood lovers across America. With the LESS Act, Rep. Graves and I want to level the playing field to ensure foreign-raised shrimp producers play by the rules and do not overwhelm the marketplace with unhealthy products,” Castor said.

“Pushed to the margins by cheap shrimp tainted with harmful chemicals, shrimpers are struggling to sell their catch and are confronting one of the worst years this industry has ever experienced. The LESS Act is proof that Congress has a vital role in the continued viability of our shrimp industry,” John Williams, Executive Director of the Southern Shrimp Alliance, said. “Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA) and Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) have proposed a brilliant, creative approach to help our fishermen by using funds that our industry has largely generated for the federal government.”

“The domestic shrimp industry is in peril because for years the U.S. market has been flooded with cheap, foreign shrimp, which often contains banned antibiotics, and employs less sustainable practices.  Sadly, there are very few of us left to fight on behalf of the industry, which is why we are so appreciative of Congressman Graves and his hardworking staff for throwing our struggling industry a lifeline,” Trey Pearson, President of the American Shrimp Processor’s Association, said.

This legislation builds on Graves’ law changes last Congress to prevent Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing and forced labor in seafood supply chains. Several of those provisions were signed into law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act in December 2022, but Graves continues to push legislation to address this important issue.

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