PanaTimes

Wednesday, Feb 08, 2023

Despite war ban, Russian seafood could enter the US anyway

Despite war ban, Russian seafood could enter the US anyway

The US ban on Russian seafood imports may not be stopping billions of dollars from going to Russia and its war in Ukraine.

Fishing is big business in Russia, one closely linked to the Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin’s projection of power at sea.

The country is one of the world’s top seafood producers and was the eighth-largest exporter to the United States last year, with more than $1.2bn worth of sales, the bulk of it king crab.

But it is unknown exactly how much manages to land in the US by way of China, which sent another $1.7bn in fish to the US last year. Nor does the Biden administration’s ban require companies importing from China to find out.

Among Russia’s biggest seafood exports is Alaska pollock. A cousin of cod, Alaska pollock is the most harvested fish in the US, showing up in everything from imitation crabmeat to McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwiches. Every year, giant, floating factories in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska catch 1.5 million tonnes of fish, the equivalent of more than four times the weight of New York’s Empire State Building.

But the same species is also harvested in Russia in similar amounts, and once processed and imported from China, fills an important gap in the US market. In lieu of tracing the country of origin, US producers rely on the name recognition of Alaska pollock to signal where the fish was caught.

Shortcomings in US import regulations mean that Russian-caught pollock, salmon and crab are likely to enter the US if they’re processed elsewhere


“Consumers can have confidence that if the name Alaska is on the box it unequivocally comes from Alaskan waters,” insisted Craig Morris, chief executive of Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers.

Even before the invasion of Ukraine, pressure had been building to prevent what Senator Dan Sullivan, a Republican of Alaska, called “authoritarian” pollock from entering the US. Putin banned US seafood in 2014 following American sanctions to punish him for the invasion of Crimea that year. Since then, Russian exports entering the US duty-free have nearly quadrupled in value.

US trade data analysed by The Associated Press show that the biggest importer of Russian-caught pollock from China last year was High Liner Foods. The company did not respond to the AP’s request for comment.

While overshadowed by Russia’s role as an energy powerhouse, Russia’s seafood industry has increasingly been flexing its own muscle with strong support from the Kremlin.

Two of the country’s largest seafood exporters — Vladivostok-based Russian Fishery Co and Russian Crab — are owned by Gleb Frank, the son of Putin’s former transportation minister and head of state-owned shipbuilder Sovcomflot.


Frank, dubbed Russia’s “Crab King,” is also the son-in-law of one of Russia’s richest men, Gennady Timchenko, who was among the first oligarchs sanctioned following the 2014 invasion of Crimea.

With generous state loans, Frank’s companies have been at the forefront of an effort to renew Russia’s ageing fleet. Last year, during a Navy Day ceremony at a St Petersburg shipyard with Putin and 50 warships looking on, he launched an advanced supertrawler capable of hauling in 60,000 tonnes of pollock per year.

After Frank himself was hit with US sanctions last month, he sold part of his ownership stakes in both seafood companies and resigned as chairman. Russian Fishery Co did not respond to a detailed list of questions about the US embargo but Russian Crab said Frank has never played a role in the management of the company.

It is not just the industry’s ties to the Kremlin that are driving concern.

For years, activists have complained about Russia’s poor record in caring for the oceans. The country was ranked second out of 152 nations in a recent study of global efforts to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. Only China scored worse.

Vladimir Putin attends the launch ceremony for Mekanik Sizov, a super trawler belonging to a company partly owned by sanctioned Russian businessman Gleb Frank


Allegations of illegal fishing have even followed Russia to the south pole, where a Russian ship in 2020 was accused of faking its location data to fish illegally off season. A Russian observer was also found to be behind anomalous catch data from several Antarctic fishing vessels. In both cases, Russia denied any wrongdoing.

At a congressional hearing this month on the Russian seafood ban, Representative Jared Huffman, a California Democrat, led calls for the expansion of NOAA’s Seafood Import Monitoring Program, which aims to prevent illegal seafood from entering US supply chains by tracking shipments from the point of catch. Currently, the programme covers just 13 species, only two of which — red king crab and Atlantic cod — are fished by Russia.

“Until that happens, Russian seafood will continue to line grocery store shelves and American consumers will continue to unwittingly support Putin’s war machine,” Huffman said.

Peter Quinter, a former US Customs Service lawyer, said that the Biden administration could easily close the China loophole by requiring importers to inspect their supply chains to make sure none of their fish comes from Russia.

“They can and should fix this,” said Quinter, who now advises seafood companies on compliance with American trade law. “The old days of being sure your fish is caught in a single place or country is no longer the case.”

Newsletter

Related Articles

PanaTimes
Close
0:00
0:00
2 earthquakes in Turkey killed over 2,300 people
U.S. added 517,000 jobs in January, snapping five-month string of slowing employment growth
Powerful Earthquake Strikes Turkey and Syria, Killing More Than 1,300 People.
Turkish photographer Ugur Gallenkus portrays two different worlds within a single image. Brilliant work
Tennessee Bill Would Imprison People for 3 Years If They 'Lie' About Rape to Get an Abortion.
Charlie Munger, calls for a ban on cryptocurrencies in the US, following China's lead
EU found a way to use frozen Russian funds
First generation unopened iPhone set to fetch more than $50,000 at auction.
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he will block Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from serving on the House Intelligence Committee
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
What is ChatGPT?
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Germany confirms it will provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
A Republican congressman-elect is under investigation in New York after he admitted he lied about his education and work experience.
Brazilian football legend Pele, arguably the greatest player ever, has died at the age of 82.
Hong Kong to scrap almost all its Covid rules
EU calls screening of travellers from China unjustified
US imposes Covid testing for visitors from China
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Addresses Joint Session of Congress - FULL SPEECH
Where is Rishi? Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's excuses about the UK's economic challenges just don't make sense
Former FTX CEO Bankman-Fried finally arrested in Bahamas after U.S. files charges
×