WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA), urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to work with the Commonwealth of Virginia and Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference to allow the Virginia shellfish industry to make shipments to countries in the European Union (EU) during November through April, opening new economic opportunities for the industry.
In February, the United States and European Union ended a 10-year trade dispute and will now resume oyster and mussel trading. The Commonwealth of Virginia was not included in the recent agreement due to a case of Vibrio vulnificus (V. vulnificus) last year and was put on a V. Vulnificus Control Plan.
“Shellfish is essential to our Coastal Virginia economy and way of life. Hampton Roads is a national leader in the shellfish industry, which impacts multiple economic sectors throughout Virginia and many around the country cherish Virginia shellfish as a delicacy,” Rep. Luria said. “Unfortunately, Virginia’s shellfish stakeholders faced exceptionally high losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. While this unique industry in Virginia is resilient and has persevered, the EU would be an excellent new market for the Virginia shellfish industry.”
The Commonwealth of Virginia is a leader in shellfish production, and shellfish growers make up more than 80% of Virginia’s aquaculture industry. Virginia shellfish aquaculture directly employs hundreds of Virginians.
In a letter supporting Rep. Luria for her work, the Shellfish Growers of Virginia said “We appreciate your efforts to speed the approval of Virginia to participate in the trade opportunities between the U.S. and E.U. Thank you for your interest in our industry.”
The Food and Drug Administration must consider both public health and access to economic opportunities for one of the leading states for shellfish production in the nation. Both the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and the Virginia Department of Health are often cited by other states as a model of efficient regulatory management, which includes the leasing of private shellfish grounds, the management of and oversight of harvest on public shellfish grounds, and the implementation of shellfish public health safety programs
Rep. Luria’s letter can be found here.