Imported tilapia is now US catfish challenger

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - With imports of tilapia growing at a rate of 50% since 2003, officials say the foreign fish has become a challenger to the U.S. catfish industry.

Over 60% of foreign tilapia is imported from China, but the product will not fall under new federal regulations, which are expected to deal a blow to the domestic catfish's chief rivals, Chinese catfish and Vietnamese basa and tra imports.

The Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 will subject Asian catfish to the new rules that call for continuous inspection, but the regulations will only apply to catfish. There's some debate on whether the Vietnamese fish will fall under the new rules.

About 395,600 pounds of tilapia was imported into the U.S. last year.

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