China lifts ban on U.S. West Coast shellfish

China lifts ban on U.S. West Coast shellfish
An employee uses a pitchfork to harvest Pacific oysters at low tide at a Farm owned by Taylor Shellfish Co. in Oyster Bay, near Olympia, Wash.
SEATTLE (AP) - China has lifted a five month-long ban on live shellfish from U.S. West Coast waters.

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer's office sent out a statement Friday saying the ban had been lifted. The ban had particularly affected the Washington and Alaska shellfish industry.

China imposed a ban in December on the import of clams, oysters, mussels and scallops harvested from Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Northern California. China detected high levels of inorganic arsenic in geoducks from Puget Sound. It also found paralytic shellfish poisoning in geoducks harvested in Alaska.

U.S. officials had traveled to China in March to discuss lifting the ban, including highlighting new methods for sampling, surveillance and monitoring of inorganic arsenic.

Despite the ban, Washington growers had been shipping shellfish to Asia, with the two main destinations being Hong Kong and Vietnam.