Seafood legislation would ban import of Russian-origin seafood products

Legislation introduced in the U.S. House and Senate this week would impose a ban on the import of all Russian-origin seafood products still making their way into the United States.

An executive order signed in March of 2022 by President Biden prohibited the import of unaltered seafood originating in Russia. That order did not, however, block Russian seafood that has been substantially changed through reprocessing in another country.

The U.S.-Russian Federation Seafood Reciprocity Act of 2023 was introduced by Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both R-Alaska. Companion legislation was introduced in the House by Reps. Mary Sattler Peltola, D-Alaska, and Garret Graves, R-LA.

The previous attempt to halt the import of Russian seafood into the United States was the U.S.-Russian Federation Seafood Reciprocity Act, banning the import of all Russian seafood into the U.S., introduced by Murkowski and Sullivan on Feb. 9, 2022. Then on March 22, 2022, the Biden administration announced it would prohibit the import of Russian seafood into the country, in addition to banning goods from several other signature sectors of Russia’s economy.

The proposed legislation would block Russian imports until American fishermen and processors are allowed reciprocal access to Russian markets.

“Sanctions should matter as we squeeze Russia’s economic prosperity used to attack Ukraine,” Murkowski said. “Alaskans have faced a one-sided Russian embargo on seafood since 2014. It’s well past time we ensure America’s seafood economy is safeguarded against unfair trade practices. This legislation will help correct this trade imbalance and bring parity to Alaska’s world-class seafood industry.”


“This is a matter of basic fairness and reciprocity that every American can understand,” Sullivan said.  “Since the brutal invasion of Ukraine, we fought even harder and secured an executive order putting sanctions on a significant portion of Russian imports, but loopholes are still allowing Russian seafood to be imported when reprocessed in other countries, especially Communist China. This has to end.”

“Often, they disguise their product by processing it in and re-exporting from China,” said Peltola.

“We need to stand up for ocean health and our American fishermen, and make sure that Americans are not unknowingly buying seafood from Russian vessels that have little oversight or regulation. Our oceans are all connected, and we shouldn’t ignore foreign trawlers who are harming the ocean and misleading American consumers.” 

Back in 2016 President Barack Obama signed legislation that included a provision requiring fisheries to be included as a principal negotiating objective for all future trade agreements.