Alaska Delegation Seeks to Close Loopholes Allowing Russian Access to U.S. Seafood Market

Washington, DC—U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan (both R-Alaska) this week introduced the U.S-Russian Federation Seafood Reciprocity Act of 2023, legislation that would impose a comprehensive ban on the import of all Russian-origin seafood products into the United States. Companion legislation was introduced in the House by Representatives Garret Graves (R-La.) and Mary Sattler Peltola (D-Alaska).

In March of 2022, President Joe Biden signed Executive Order 14068, which prohibits the import of unaltered seafood originating in Russia. However, EO 14068 fails to block Russian seafood that has been substantially transformed in another country through reprocessing. The proposed legislation would block Russian imports until American fishermen and processors are afforded reciprocal access to the Russian market.

“There are many ways to support Ukraine in this awful war waged by Putin. Sanctions should matter as we squeeze Russia’s economic prosperity used to attack Ukraine,” said Sen. Murkowski. “Alaskans have faced a one-sided Russian embargo on seafood since 2014. It’s well past time we ensure America’s seafood economy is safeguarded against unfair trade practices. This legislation will help correct this trade imbalance and bring parity to Alaska’s world-class seafood industry.”

“Since coming to the Senate, I’ve made the case to every senator, every cabinet secretary, and every administration official who will hear me: We should not be allowing Russian seafood to enter the U.S. market at the same time Russia is barring America’s fishermen and seafood processors from accessing their market,” said Sen. Sullivan. “This is a matter of basic fairness and reciprocity that every American can understand. Since the brutal invasion of Ukraine, we fought even harder and secured an executive order putting sanctions on a significant portion of Russian imports, but loopholes are still allowing Russian seafood to be imported when reprocessed in other countries, especially Communist China. This has to end. I encourage my colleagues to stand with American fishermen, join us in restoring fairness and reciprocity in this bilateral seafood trade relationship, and close off another revenue stream for the Putin regime as it continues its brutal, unjust war in Ukraine.”

“Russia's hostile actions around the world are not limited to the land. While they have banned imports of U.S. seafood, they continue to sell their catch, including large amounts of pollock caught by trawling, into our stores,” said Rep. Peltola. “Often, they disguise their product by processing it in and re-exporting from China. We need to stand up for ocean health and our American fishermen, and make sure that Americans are not unknowingly buying seafood from Russian vessels that have little oversight or regulation. Our oceans are all connected, and we shouldn't ignore foreign trawlers who are harming the ocean and misleading American consumers. I'm glad to help lead this bipartisan bill to clearly ban these deceptive practices and protect our seafood supply chain.”

Senators Murkowski and Sullivan originally introduced legislation in response to Russia’s own prohibition on the import of U.S. and other western seafood products since 2014. Russia enacted its embargo in response to a suite of sanctions the United States and its allies imposed following Russia’s 2014 invasion of the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine.