International seafood imports impacts local businesses 

Posted at 6:12 PM, Jun 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-25 19:12:31-04

A federal report shows America is importing more seafood than ever before. The data is coming from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

It shows that in 2017, the U.S. imported more than 90% of the seafood consumed by the public. That’s about six billion pounds, worth around $21 billion. 
"Directly I haven’t seen the increase in imported seafood," Daniel Edgar of St. Mary Seafood said. 

"What I have seen is a decrease in the prices of our seafood and that’s a direct result of the more seafood that they import put into the country. It crowds the market and drives our domestic seafood prices down."

Businesses like St. Mary Seafood, are faced with international competition. Edgar says business never quite came back after the BP oil spill. 

"When the Gulf of  Mexico was re-opened, all of the customers were forced to buy internationally," Edgar said. "Many of them have those clients so they still buy a lot of imported seafood and that was a direct result of forcing them to make those purchases. In prices, I would say in some seafood we’ve seen as much as a 25 percent decrease in wholesale prices." 

Edgar believes people won’t buy seafood locally like they used to years ago. However, he’s hopeful.

"We still feel those price increases. We have to compete with imported seafood and we can’t compete with their labor cost and everything else we just can’t compete with it. I don’t know if that’s possible because these big wholesalers and restaurants were forced to make those international contacts. The only way that we can continue is to supply good quality fresh domestic seafood."