Geoduck. (Photo Credit: Anderson)
Geoduck exporters complicated by Hong Kong
Friday, January 30, 2015, 03:40 (GMT + 9)
B.C. geoduck exporters were forced to stop their daily shipments to Hong Kong due to a ban issued by Chinese authorities citing unacceptable levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP).
This is especially disadvantageous since this is the time of the year, Lunar New Year eve, in which this shellfish is in high demand and fetching its top prices in China.
Paulo Demee of Evergreen International Foodstuffs Ltd, which has exported geoducks to Hong Kong since the 1990s, stated, “We lost a couple of shipments. They just got destroyed in Hong Kong and we suffered the total losses,” Vancouver Sun reported.
On his part, James Austin, president of the Underwater Harvesters Association, said, “We are probably at 50 per cent production right now.”
The leader recalled that by mid-January, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) had sent a proposal to Hong Kong, which was unanswered.
In a statement, the CFIA said that although they had received information from Hong Kong regarding the presence of a toxin in geoducks, there were no unusual events that would require closure of the area from which the shellfish were harvested.
The prices of this shellfish vary according to quality, but divers make around USD 25 to USD 30 per kg of geoduck, and restaurants overseas charge five times that amount.
The current situation worries geoduck exporters, as last year China banned goeducks from Alaska and Washington for 5 months arguing they had found traces of arsenic and PSP. Nevertheless, US officials did not find anything of the kind in their records.
The impact in Vancouver is strong because B.C. has already been making efforts to adjust to fresh competition.
Washington and B.C. are the main competitors in the Chinese market. Particularly, the US state has invested heavily and is further ahead with its geoduck aquaculture projects.
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