Alaska Delegation Pushes FDA to Support U.S. Pollock Fisheries

With Russia Co-Opting “Alaska Pollock,” Lawmakers Urge Clarity in Labeling

Alaska’s Congressional Delegation and their colleagues from Washington State are pushing the Food and Drug Administration to change the market name for pollock and clearly differentiate it from inferior fish harvested in Russia. Supporting a request by the Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers (GAPP), the bipartisan group of lawmakers wrote a letter (attached) to the Food and Drug Administration Commissioner seeking to change the legal market name from “Alaska pollock” to “pollock” to differentiate American-caught seafood from the 113 million pounds of Russian-harvested pollock bought by Americans in 2012.

Beyond a matter of commercial concern, the lawmakers stressed that the terminology is causing confusion about the origins of the fish, writing “pollock harvested in Alaskan waters is of a higher quality and is managed more sustainably than other pollock, especially Russian pollock.”

Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich and Congressman Don Young explained their reasoning in the letter.  Among their points:

  • The use of “Alaska pollock” as an acceptable market name is misleading to consumers;
  • “Alaska pollock” is understood to suggest a geographic origin, and
  • U.S. government programs support other efforts to provide accurate information and differentiate food products in the marketplace.

“Pollock harvested from Alaskan waters is of the highest quality and taste; it is sustainably managed to ensure that the resource will be there in the future for the fishermen, processors and coastal communities that depend on it,” said Senator Murkowski.  “This Administration should act to counter Russian’s recent actions to harm Alaska’s seafood industry, and the FDA should take action promptly to make it easier for consumers to tell good Alaska pollock from inferior Russian product.”

“Alaska has set the global standard for responsible and sustainable fisheries management and we should not let Russian fishermen capitalize on Alaska’s brand,” said Senator Mark Begich. “Americans shouldn’t be misled by false advertising—we deserve to know where the food on our dinner tables comes from.  The Alaska delegation will continue to work closely together to make sure we protect Alaska’s brand and American consumers from false advertising by Russian fishermen.”    

“This clarification makes a significant difference for our Alaskan Pollock fishery, the 2.5 billion pounds they sustainably harvest each year, and the everyday American consumer,” said Congressman Don Young. “It’s a very simple solution to a 100 million pound problem; otherwise, Russian caught Pollock will continue to be passed off as Alaskan due to a confusing market name.”