Seafood producers from Alaska to northern California have been hit hard by a Chinese ban on imports of West Coast shellfish, the Seattle Times reports. China says it has suspended imports indefinitely after high levels of arsenic and other toxins were found in a shipment of geoduck clams, but fish companies are crying foul, noting that even in the area where the clams were harvested, health authorities have found no evidence of toxins anywhere near harmful levels.
Officials say that Chinese authorities have never imposed such a widespread ban on shellfish before and although the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is expected to enter negotiations with the Chinese government, the closure could last months, forcing seafood producers to find new markets or lay off thousands of workers. "It's had an incredible impact," the geoduck harvest coordinator for Puget Sound's Suquamish Tribe tells KUOW. "A couple thousand divers out of work right now." (Read more China stories.)