Geoduck Tariffs Prompt DNR to Offer Refunds to Harvesters

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is offering financial relief to geoduck harvesters who successfully bid to harvest the state’s wild geoduck.

“Our state’s aquatic lands, and the working men and women who depend on them, are unnecessary casualties in an unnecessary trade war,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz.

“These tariffs threaten our geoduck industry – and the divers, processors, and packers whose jobs depend on it. So we are doing are part to mitigate impacts to our communities and keep these businesses whole.

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“President Trump has said trade wars are ‘good and easy to win,’ but this isn’t good, and it isn’t a win for our communities.”

The People’s Republic of China announced last month a 25 percent tariff on American seafood products, including geoduck, in response to tariffs instituted by The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. China’s announcement that the tariffs would take effect July 6 came shortly after a May 30 auction by DNR, which awarded eight companies the rights to harvest wild geoduck from tracts in Puget Sound between July 3 and Sept. 28, 2018.

DNR auctions the right to harvest geoduck from state-owned aquatic lands four times a year, generating more than $21 million annually. That money is used to restore and enhance Washington’s aquatic lands. The May 30 auction generated $5,491,256.

To minimize the impacts from the tariffs on Washington’s geoduck industry, DNR notified successful bidders on June 26 they may be entitled to refunds if the tariffs hurt geoduck sales.

The only other time the state has offered partial refunds to geoduck harvesters was in 2013, when the Chinese government banned geoduck imports from the U.S. after one sample tested positive for arsenic.

Steward of state aquatic lands

As steward of 2.6 million acres of state aquatic lands, DNR manages the bedlands under Puget Sound and the coast, many of Washington’s beaches, and natural lakes and navigable rivers. DNR manages these lands to facilitate navigation, commerce, and public access, and to ensure protection of aquatic habitat.

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