Los Angeles, CA – A number of companies from Alaska’s $6 billion seafood industry are voicing their support for a ban on Russian seafood imports to the US, while urging Moscow to rescind its August ban on US food imports.
Such a move, they say, “would not only further squeeze Russia’s faltering economy as Russia threatens European stability, but would support America’s sustainable, high-quality fisheries.”
Companies calling for the action reportedly include some of the largest seafood producers in the Pacific Northwest including Alaska General Seafoods, Alyeska Seafoods, Icicle Seafoods, North Pacific Seafoods, Ocean Beauty Seafoods, Peter Pan Seafoods, Trident Seafoods, Westward Seafoods, and UniSea Inc., all based in Washington state, as well as the entire membership of the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers Association.
The proposed US ban, the group says, would remain in effect “until Russia rescinds its ban on US imports, and would include mechanisms to prohibit all seafood imports of Russian origin, including Russian-caught seafood that is transferred through other countries such as China before reaching the US.”
Hundreds of millions of dollars of Russian seafood imports are sold in the US every year, with much of the imported Russian fish coming through China.
The Alaska seafood industry is seeking support from the state’s Congressional delegation for the ban, as well as from the Office of the US Trade Representative, while also seeking diplomatic efforts to immediately end Russia’s ban on US seafood products.
Russia has been a major market for US seafood products such as salmon roe, hake, Alaskan pollock, and others, while the US has been an important market for Russian products including crab, Russian pollock, salmon, and caviar.
According to the US Department of Commerce, sales of food and agricultural products to Russia amounted to $1.3 billion in the first five months of this year with more than $86.5 million of that was from US seafood, including shrimp, hake, sole and sardines. The majority of that — $46.4 million — was salmon roe, used for Russian red caviar.
“We did not start this fight, and we hope the Russians will call off their embargo,” said Terry Shaff, president & CEO of Washington-headquartered seafood producer UniSea Inc.
But, he said, “a US ban will signal to President Putin that America will not sit idly by while Russia disregards international law and tries to coerce the world into ignoring its transgressions through retaliatory actions,”