In case you don’t have enough to worry about, consider “early mortality syndrome.”
Sounds gruesomely lethal, doesn’t it? Luckily, this is not a human disease, nor has it struck America — but it affects us anyway. EMS is a new bacterial outbreak that’s been devastating Thailand’s shrimp farming industry. Three troubling points: Shrimp is by far America’s most consumed seafood, the vast majority of it comes from foreign waters, and Thailand supplies most of that.
To combat the disease, Thailand’s shrimp farms have been dumping untold volumes of antibiotics into their ponds — so we’re consuming the antibiotics that the imported shrimp consumed. But you might assume that, surely, our government inspects those boatloads of frozen crustaceans and rejects those too tainted to eat. Well… sort of… barely… not really. Remember, corporate lobbyists and screeching anti-government politicos don’t like government regulation, so less than one-half of one percent of the tons of foreign-produced shrimp coming into the U.S. is inspected.
Fishier yet, even though our country is blessed to have three huge and abundant oceans around us, 90 percent of the seafood we eat comes from abroad. And less than 2 percent of that ridiculous volume gets inspected. Indeed, that serving of imported seafood on your plate has traveled an average of 5,475 miles to reach you. And a third of the wild seafood we import has a most unappetizing acronym attached to it: IUU — or Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated.
Meanwhile, America’s fishing families are being left out and shortchanged in our own market. Just as we’ve done with beer, books and broccoli, America needs a locavore movement to enrich environmental and human health with local, sustainable seafood. For more information contact Institute for Fisheries Resources at www.ifrfish.org.
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