A Capitol Hill panel looking at seafood and the TPP raised serious concerns about what a flood of fish coming in from the 11 other nations involved in negotiations of the trade pact would mean both for consumers and industry workers. Lawmakers and experts said the livelihoods of fishermen and the health of the American public could be at stake.
Mitch Jones, Food and Water Watch’s director of the common resources program who moderated the program, said as it stands the U.S. can’t keep up with imported fish:
In 2010 the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] had 92 full time equivalent border inspectors, which means that in that year each border inspector was responsible for inspecting 56.5 million pounds of seafood. No wonder less than 2 percent of our seafood is actually inspected before being allowed into the country and sold in our stores.
In an effort to stop the soaring importation of unsafe fish, lawmakers and experts agreed it is key to stop fast track, which would allow a quick up-or-down vote on the TPP with little demand and no chance to amend the deal. Having Congress fully consider the agreement would not only help consumers’ health, it would protect hard-working Americans in many different industries.
Reps. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.) and Walter Jones (N.C.), who hosted the briefing, were joined by Sen. Mary Landrieu (La.) on a letter sent to the Obama administration last year asking that public health be a key focus of negotiators during TPP discussions. Unfortunately, due to the secretive nature of the pact’s negotiations, the public doesn’t know where things stand.
As talks between trade negotiators begin to wind down, the Obama administration and Congress need to carefully weigh any deal. While Americans are for open markets, that doesn’t mean they want to trade good U.S. jobs and safe products made here for lost jobs, lower wages and foods that make their families sick. They demand fair trade.