Putin’s Pollack: US seafood imports Russian war engine fuel

MIAMI – Billions of dollars have been wasted on Vladimir Putin’s war machine as the United States has banned seafood imports from Russia due to the invasion of Ukraine.

Like the American seafood industry, Russian companies rely heavily on China to implement their grip. Once there, seafood can be re-exported to the United States as “China-made” because the native country does not require labeling.

As a result, according to a study by the International Trade Commission of 2019 data, it is estimated that almost a third of the wild fish imported from China were caught in Russian waters. For pollock and sockeye salmon, the ratio is even higher – 50% to 75%.

“China does not fish. They do not catch evil. However, they are one of the largest exporters of white fish in the world, ”said Sally Yosel, former policy director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who is now a senior colleague at the Stimson Center in Washington. “It’s not really fair to consumers and restaurants to be labeled as a Chinese product.”

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Fishing is a big business in Russia, which is closely linked to the Kremlin and Putin’s plan for power in the sea. The country is one of the world’s leading seafood producers and was the eighth largest exporter to the United States last year, with sales of more than $ 1.2 billion, most of which was King Crop.

But it is not clear exactly how much will land in the United States through China, which sent another $ 1.7 billion worth of fish to the United States last year. The ban on Biden management does not need to be found by companies importing from China.

Alaska Pollack is Russia’s largest seafood exporter. Koda’s cousin, Alaska Pollock, is the most widely harvested fish in the United States, found in everything from crab meat to McDonald’s pilot-o-fish. Each year, giant, floating factories in the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska catch 1.5 million metric tons of fish, more than four times the weight of the Empire State Building.

But the same variety is harvested in similar quantities in Russia and, once processed and imported from China, fills a key gap in the US market. Instead of finding the country of birth, American producers recognize the name of Alaska Pollack to indicate where the fish were caught.

“If the name Alaska is in the box, consumers can trust that it came from Alaskan waters,” said Craig Morris, chief executive of the original Alaska Pollock maker.

Even before the invasion of Ukraine, Sen. of the Republican Party of Alaska. The pressure was built to prevent Dan Sullivan from calling what he called “official” pollen, and Putin banned US seafood in 2014 following US sanctions to punish him for invading Crimea. That year. Since then, the value of Russian exports without US taxes has almost quadrupled.

U.S. trade data, analyzed by the Associated Press, shows that High Liner Foods was the largest importer of Russian-caught pollen from China last year. The company did not respond to a request for comment.

While Russia’s role as Russia’s energy hub is overshadowed, Russia’s seafood industry is increasingly flexing its own muscle with the strong support of the Kremlin.

Two of the country’s largest seafood exporters – the Vladivostok-based Russian Fisheries Company and the Russian Crab – are owned by Klepp Frank, the son of Putin’s former transport minister and head of the state-owned shipbuilding company Sowcomflot. Known as the “Crab King” of Russia, Frank is also the son-in-law of one of Russia’s richest men, Gennady Timchenko, who was one of the first oligarchs to be allowed in following the 2014 Crimean invasion.

With generous government loans, Frank’s companies are at the forefront of efforts to revive Russia’s aging navy. Last year, during the Naval Day celebration at the St. Petersburg dockyard with Putin and 50 warships, he unveiled an advanced super trawler capable of towing 60,000 tons of bulk a year.

After Frank was hit by U.S. sanctions last month, he sold a stake in two seafood companies and resigned as chairman. The Russian Fisheries Agency did not respond to a detailed list of questions about the US ban, but said Frank had never played a role in the management of the Russian crab company.

The industry’s relationship with the Kremlin is not the only concern.

For years, activists have been complaining about Russia’s poor record in caring for its seas. The country ranks 2nd out of 152 countries in a recent study of global efforts to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. Only China scored badly.

Allegations of illegal fishing followed Russia to the South Pole, where in 2020 a Russian ship was accused of falsifying its location data and fishing illegally after the season. It was also discovered that there was a Russian observer behind conflicting capture data from several Antarctic fishing vessels. In both cases, Russia denied any wrongdoing.

Representative of the California Democrats at the congressional hearing on the Russian seafood ban this month. Jared Huffman called on the NOAA to expand its seafood import monitoring program. Like. Currently the project includes 13 species, only two of which – the Red King Crab and the Atlantic Cat – are being fished by Russia.

“Until that happens, Russian seafood will remain on grocery store shelves and American consumers will unknowingly support Putin’s war machine,” Huffman said.

Peter Quinter, a former U.S. customs lawyer, said the Biden administration could easily close China’s hole, and that importers should inspect their supply chains to make sure none of their fish came from Russia.

“They can and should fix this,” Quinder said, adding that he now advises seafood companies to comply with U.S. trade law. “Gone are the old days of making sure your fish were caught in one place or country.”

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Wifering reported from Washington.

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