Alaska pollock producers say they’re working with the federal government to assure all loopholes are closed before the Federal Register announcement is published that seals a ban on import of Russian seafood, including imports of Russia-caught seafood processed in China.
Under an executive order issued by the White House on Dec. 22, no Russia-originated seafood is permitted for import into the U.S. after mid-February. The ban includes salmon, cod, crab and pollock, either harvested in Russian waters or by Russian vessels anywhere.
The bulk of the world’s supply of pollock, a popular and succulent whitefish, is harvested in Russia and Alaska. Alaska pollock is mostly sold as once-frozen fillet blocks or surimi caught by U.S. trawlers and processed in the U.S., while Russian caught pollock is frozen at sea and then reprocessed in China before being sold in Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere.
An article posted on Jan. 10 by the online publication SeafoodSource notes that only three pollock harmonized tariff schedule (HTS) category codes are restricted under the White House executive order.
CEO Craig Morris of Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers (GAPP) said Jan. 15 that it is working with the federal government to be sure any loopholes in the initial executive order are closed before the document is published in the Federal Register, which he expects to be done soon.
Meanwhile, the federal Office of Foreign Assets Control guidance listing the HTS codes has no legal status and subsequent rulemaking will formally define relevant HTS codes subject to that executive order.
Morris said a major concern is that U.S. consumers purchasing retail pollock know where their fish is coming from and that their purchases are not supporting Russian’s war in the Ukraine.
“This executive order will close that loophole,” he said.
As for Alaska pollock sales overall, fish sticks are doing particularly well and GAPP is really optimistic about a strong upcoming Lent season, he said. Lent begins Feb. 14 and ends March 27.