Intrafish: Alaska lawmakers introduce bill to add new 'wild seafood' label to US-harvested products

As part of the measure, the Alaska lawmakers say any firm using the label for an 'unfair or deceptive' practice could be fined $10,000.

On Thursday, Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan introduced the "Wild USA Seafood Act of 2023" to establish a Wild USA Seafood label to promote wild-harvested seafood caught in US waters.

Language included in a draft version of the bill obtained by IntraFish said the measure would amend the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to establish a label designating fish "harvested in the United States exclusive economic zone or navigable waters as wild USA seafood, and for other purposes." That marketing act is managed under the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“Consumers want to know where their food comes from, and by creating a specific label allowing wild seafood, like Alaskan salmon caught in Bristol Bay, wild kelp harvested in Southeast, or pollock caught in the Bering Sea, the option to be labeled as Wild USA Seafood, we’re ensuring consumers know they are purchasing the highest-quality seafood from the best-managed fisheries in the world," Murkowski said.

One provision in the bill said persons and retailers using the label for an 'unfair or deceptive' practice could ultimately be fined $10,000 (€9,182).

The measure comes as tensions between Alaska lawmakers and federal regulators boil over regarding the imports of Russian-origin seafood into the United States. Direct imports from Russia were banned by sanctions imposed by the US government following Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year.

Russian seafood processed in China and elsewhere, however, can still legally enter the country.

Earlier this week, Alaska's Dan Sullivan gave a scathing indictment of lawmakers' failure to close the loophole for Russian seafood making its way into the US market via China.

Sullivan, together with Murkowski, put forward a different bill last week -- a slightly revised version of the same bill put forward just after Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine -- calling for a ban not only on direct Russian seafood imports but also products sourced in Russia and reprocessed elsewhere.

By:  Rachel Sapin
Source: Intra Fish