Alaska’s congressional delegation commends ban on Russian seafood

Published: Mar. 11, 2022 at 9:24 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - President Joe Biden issued an executive order on Friday banning certain imports from Russia, including seafood, a move welcomed by Alaska’s congressional delegation.

Russia has banned the import of Alaskan seafood, and all food products from the United States since 2014. It’s retaliation for sanctions imposed on Russia by the U.S. after it invaded Crimea. There had been no ban on Russian seafood, until now.

“To me, this was an opportunity to right a wrong,” said Sen. Dan Sullivan Friday, hours after Biden issued the executive order that will keep Russian seafood out of the U.S.

According to research compiled for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, the state’s seafood industry generated $15 billion in economic output nationally, as seafood went out to 100 countries.

The U.S. Census Bureau says Russia is the nation’s 26th largest trading partner, as America exported about $6.3 billion worth of products to Russia last year.

“Level the playing field, but also inflict some pain on those guys,” Sullivan said.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski noted in a Friday press release that Russian seafood imports compete with Alaska seafood species.

“In Alaska, where we produce more than 60 percent of U.S. seafood, Russia competes directly with some of our most valuable species, such as salmon, crab, and Pollock, using inferior sustainability and processing practices,” she said in the release. “U.S. fishermen and women and America’s economy deserve a level playing field. While I wish we’d taken this step eight years ago at my initial urging, I thank the administration and welcome the relief this will bring our harvesters and processors.”

Sullivan said he and the rest of the Alaska congressional delegation want to make the ban permanent as long as Russia keeps its own ban.

“We pretty much can’t export anything to Russia despite our superpower seafood status in Alaska, while their imports into America have almost been duty-free for now going on close to eight years,” said Sullivan.

Russian seafood product imports would be banned from coming into America under Sullivan’s U.S.-Russian Reciprocity Seafood Act, co-sponsored by Murkowski, along with the president’s executive order.

“All I was asking was for was to nail Russian imports into the United States the way they’ve done it to us,” Sullivan said.

He expects the U.S. Senate to pass his measure next week after a similar attempted failed two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, Rep. Don Young introduced his version of the bill in the U.S. House Of Representatives on Feb. 22. It has bipartisan support with 13 co-sponsors.

There’s no word when it could be voted on by the full chamber.

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