Legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate by Alaska’s two U.S. senators would ban the import of all Russian seafood products into the United States to response to Russia’s ban on the import of U.S. and other western seafood products since 2014.
The United States-Russian Federation Seafood Reciprocity Act of 2022, sponsored by Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both R-Alaska, would prohibit import of any Russian Federation seafood or seafood products into the U.S. The prohibition would be terminated only when the Russian Federation terminates its ban on the import of U.S. seafood products.
The bill notes that in 2014 the Russian Federation invaded and annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine and that the United States and its allies responded by imposing sanctions on the Russian Federation, as a result of what the U.S. termed hostile and illegal action. The Russia Federation retaliated by imposing an embargo on agricultural products, including seafood, imported from the U.S., the European Union, Australia, Canada and Norway.
Prior to that, the Russian Federation had been an important export market for seafood products from the U.S.
Russian-origin seafood products have continued to enter the domestic market without restriction and imports of such products increased roughly 173% in value between 2013, the year before the embargo, and 2020, according to federal data.
Chris Barrows, president of Pacific Seafood Processors Association, said that Russia’s embargo has left Alaska’s seafood producers unfairly locked out of key seafood markets.
“As Congress works on a sanctions package to deter Russia from invading Ukraine, it’s important that we explore all sectors of the Russian economy that we can influence, such as restricting imports of Russian seafood,” Murkowski said.
“Most Americans would be astounded to learn that Russia has unfettered access to sell its seafood in the United States at the same time America’s fishermen and seafood processors have zero access to the Russian markets,” Sullivan said. “This is just wrong and hurts our fishermen.”