Murkowski Commends Announcement of Russian Seafood Ban
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) today issued the following statement commending President Joe Biden for signing an executive order to prohibit the importation of Russian seafood and other key imports into the United States.
Since Russia imposed seafood bans on the United States in 2014, Senator Murkowski has worked to educate every President and their administration on the importance of re-opening the Russian market to U.S. seafood and failing that, creating a reciprocal ban on Russian seafood. Murkowski’s latest effort on this front was to introduce the U.S-Russian Federation Seafood Reciprocity Act with Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), which would impose a ban on the import of all Russian seafood products into the United States. On February 15, 2022, Senator Murkowski spoke on the Senate floor, calling for a ban on Russian seafood, as well as Russian energy imports, to be included as part of any Russia sanctions package. Less than one month later, the President has prohibited importation of both.
“President Biden’s executive order banning Russian seafood imports is long overdue, but incredibly welcome news. As I have told his administration—and every administration since 2014—Russia’s dealings in seafood are inequitable and unacceptable. Russia has been closed to U.S seafood, yet their product continues to be sold widely within our markets. For far too long, we have been rewarding their bad behavior,” said Senator Murkowski. “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. 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.”
“Crabbers are pleased to see the President’s swift action to ban US imports of Russian seafood with this Executive Order and thank the Alaska delegation for their leadership in highlighting this issue. This ban will provide an economic pinch to Russia that, for example with crab, cuts off nearly a billion dollars’ worth of crab coming into the US from Russia annually. At the same time, this ban provides an opportunity to increase consumer awareness about where seafood comes from and, hopefully, improve labeling and traceability to the benefit of sustainably harvested US seafood. For crab, while we need imports from other countries, like Canada and Norway, to meet the US demand, we want consumers to be able to choose premier crab from Alaska’s pristine waters,” said Jamie Goen, Executive Director, Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers.
“In 2014, Russia placed an embargo on U.S. food products (which included all Alaska seafood products with the exception of canned salmon). Since that time, Senators Murkowski and Sullivan have worked tirelessly on behalf of Alaskan Fishermen and the seafood industry to highlight this gross inequity in the market and advocated for U.S. Seafood to be prioritized in Federal trade negotiations. Last month, the Senators from Alaska introduced a bill to ban Russian seafood imports and today, the President issued an EO banning the importation of Russian Seafood. Without a doubt, without the Alaska delegation’s support on this trade issue would not have been elevated to the national stage and gained the momentum that it has,” said Tracy Welch, UFA Executive Director.
“First and foremost, we must acknowledge the devastating toll that Russia’s actions are taking in Ukraine, home to hundreds of seasonal visa guest workers in Alaska’s seafood processing plants. What we are witnessing is unconscionable. We strongly support our industry’s Ukrainian workers and the combined efforts of the U.S. and other nations to help bring this war to an end. Today’s action is just one of many actions to help achieve this goal, and it aligns with many company views and actions already underway in the seafood industry to boycott or end seafood trade relations with Russia,” said Chris Barrows, President, Pacific Seafood Processors Association.
Throughout Senator Murkowski’s career, she has used every opportunity to advocate for and support Alaska’s incredible seafood industry. In November of 2018, Senator Murkowski’s staff hosted the Deputy United States Trade Representative Gregg Doud for the Pacific Marine Expo, the largest commercial marine trade show on the West Coast, to educate him on Alaska’s world-class seafood industry and allow him to hear the concerns of Alaskans first-hand. After Russia banned imports of Alaska’s seafood in 2014, Senator Murkowski has taken meaningful steps to support the species impacted by the Russian embargo including, using her role on the Appropriations Committee to fund crucial programs like the Satlonstall-Kennedy grants for the promotion and development of U.S. fisheries, as well as numerous Section 32 purchases of Alaskan salmon and pollock through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Senator Murkowski has worked diligently through meetings and U.S. Senate Committee hearings to help educate United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Alaska’s seafood industry, including a Senate Appropriations CJS Subcommittee hearing where she raised the need to prioritize U.S. fisheries in the global market.