U.S. Treasury Finally Takes Action on Russian Seafood Imports Following 2-Year Sullivan-Led Campaign

Determination Advances Reciprocity in U.S.-Russian Seafood Trading Relationship

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) today lauded a new Executive Order and resulting U.S. Department of the Treasury determination that will finally revise current guidance that has allowed all Russian-origin seafood to bypass an earlier Executive Order banning its import into the United States. The new determination states that the current prohibition on Russian imports applies to salmon, pollock, cod and crab products harvested in waters under the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation or by Russian-flagged vessels outside of Russian waters, even if this seafood has later been reprocessed and substantially transformed in another country, most frequently in Communist China and sometimes using slave labor. For nearly two years, Sen. Sullivan has been tirelessly advocating for the Treasury Department and other federal agencies to expand the current prohibition of Russian seafood into the U.S. market in dozens of meetings, advocacy and engagement with senior Biden administration officials and his congressional colleagues, and through legislation he’s authored and championed in the Senate.

“Russia’s decade-long ban on nearly all American-produced seafood products has created a completely unfair, one-sided trade relationship that has significantly hurt Alaska fishermen. In spite of an Executive Order issued in March of 2022 that I strongly advocated for that sought to level the playing field and correct this injustice, Russia and Communist China—which have some of the worst labor and environmental standards in the world—have aggressively exploited a gaping loophole that has given hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of Russian seafood continued access to the U.S. market,” said Sen. Sullivan. “This unfair arrangement was wrong on so many levels: Not only did it drive down seafood prices and hurt hardworking American fishermen, especially in Alaska, it has also provided substantial revenue to support Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine and has bolstered human rights abuses in China. Additionally, Russian and Chinese fisheries have some of the worst environmental standards for the sustainability of our oceans and fishing stocks in the world, while we have the highest.

“I’ve relentlessly pressed this issue with senior members of the Biden administration, expressing my frustration—and the frustration of Alaskans—that our own government has allowed this damaging injustice to go on for far too long. The administration has finally listened and taken action on this ridiculously unfair notion that ‘reprocessed’ Russian fish, pumped with chemicals in China, could be classified as the product of another country and still sold on the U.S. market almost duty-free. Our advocacy and unyielding determination have finally paid off, delivering a blow to the authoritarian regimes in Russia and China, and their fishing industries, which dramatically undermine the health of our oceans and promote human rights abuses. Most importantly, this is a long overdue win for Alaskan and American fishermen, for sustainable and environmentally-sound fisheries, and for the numerous coastal communities in Alaska that they support.”


In March 2022, in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and at the strong urging of Sen. Sullivan, President Joe Biden signed Executive Order 14068, which prohibits the import of seafood originating in Russia. However, Russian and Chinese industry officials quickly exploited a loophole that gave them continued access to the U.S. market by sending Russian seafood to be substantially transformed in another country through reprocessing. Consequently, the Biden administration’s original prohibition was largely ineffective since the vast majority of Russian seafood is shipped to and reprocessed in other countries, such as China, and then shipped to the U.S. for consumption.

Today’s executive order will close this loophole and prevent any fish caught in Russian waters, or caught by Russian fishermen, from entering the U.S. market, regardless of where it goes for additional processing. 

“United Fishermen of Alaska and the commercial fishing industry in Alaska thanks Senator Sullivan for his strong leadership on this issue, and for his years of support for the commercial fishing industry, particularly his support for seafood trade issues we are facing during this challenging time” said Matt Alward, president of the United Fishermen of Alaska. “Senator Sullivan’s work to enact meaningful prohibition of Russian seafood is a welcome step towards stabilizing the Alaska seafood industry.”

“Silver Bay Seafoods is owned by more than 550 fishermen, each of which operates an Alaskan small business and complies with stringent sustainability, environmental, and labor standards to ensure our customers get top quality seafood. Russian seafood cannot make the same claims, and although the Biden administration acted to ban imports of Russian seafood after the invasion of Ukraine, imports continued with impunity when routed through other countries. This action rights that wrong and ensures that the American consumer can feel good about the seafood they purchase,” said Cora Campell, CEO of Silver Bay Seafoods. “Senator Sullivan has shown tireless leadership on this issue and an unwavering commitment to Alaska’s fishermen and our coastal economy. He has doggedly pursued a level playing field, sound policy, and solutions that are good for seafood producers and consumers. Senator Sullivan’s work ethic is unmatched, and the Alaska seafood industry is fortunate to have such a stalwart advocate.”

“This is an enormous win for the nation’s effort to impose meaningful economic sanctions on Russia. Consumers throughout the United States have been unknowingly purchasing Russian-harvested seafood and indirectly supporting Russia’s war on Ukraine. That’s simply wrong,” said Joe Bundrant, CEO of Trident Seafoods. “We are grateful for the time and effort the administration, Senator Sullivan and other congressional offices have put into strengthening these sanctions and assuring U.S. consumers that their seafood purchases are not fueling the Russian war.”

“Members of the Pacific Seafood Processors Association applaud today’s action by the Treasury Department to increase economic sanctions on Russia by closing U.S. markets to Russian seafood,” said Julie Decker, president of the Pacific Seafood Processors Association. “Now, Russian seafood will not be able to enter the U.S. via other countries, fund Russia’s war in Ukraine, unfairly compete with domestic seafood, and depress U.S. seafood markets. We thank Senator Sullivan and our Congressional Delegation for their leadership on this issue, which is vital to U.S. fishermen and processors, and an important step toward ending the unjust war in Ukraine. Today’s action allows the U.S. to lead by example and we encourage other nations to follow suit.”

Senator Sullivan has strongly advocated for a fix—through legislative or administrative action—to meaningfully prohibit Russian seafood imports until American fishermen and processors are afforded reciprocal access to the Russian market and until Russia ends its brutal, illegal war against Ukraine.

Below is a timeline of the Russian seafood reciprocity issue, and Sen. Sullivan’s work to resolve it:

  • In 2014, Russia invaded the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine. In response, the United States and its allies imposed a suite of sanctions. Russia then enacted retaliatory sanctions that barred the importation of any American fish into the Russian market. This created a very uneven seafood trade relationship: Russia could export as much seafood as it wants into the United States and we couldn’t export any Alaskan fish into Russia. This severely economically damaging injustice between America’s and Russia’s fishing industries continued to exist for almost a decade.
  • Sen. Sullivan pressed the issue of Russian seafood trade reciprocity—encouraging the federal government to ban the importation of Russian seafood into the United States—for years prior to Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, including in numerous meetings with the Commerce Secretaries and U.S. Trade Representatives under Presidents Obama, Trump and Biden—all to get the United States to level the playing field with regard to seafood trade with Russia.
  • On March 11, 2021, Sen. Sullivan pressed the issue of the lack of reciprocity in the Russian-U.S. seafood trading relationship with Wally Adeyemo, nominee to be deputy secretary of the Treasury. In their conversation, the deputy secretary committed to Sen. Sullivan to address this issue.
  • On February 9. 2022, Sen. Sullivan introduced the U.S-Russian Federation Seafood Reciprocity Act, cosponsored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). This legislation would impose a ban on the import of all Russian seafood products into the United States, regardless of such seafood being reprocessed in another country.
  • On February 15, 2022, Sen. Sullivan included a provision in the Never Yielding Europe’s Territory (NYET) Act that directs the federal government to prohibit Russian seafood imports into the U.S.
  • On February 17, 2022, Sen. Sullivan attempted to pass the U.S-Russian Federation Seafood Reciprocity Act by unanimous consent, but the bill was blocked by Senate Democrats. Attempts to pass a revised version of S.2011 later in Spring 2022 were similarly blocked by Senate Democrats.
  • On February 24, 2022, Russia initiated its brutal invasion of Ukraine.
  • In the days following the invasion, Sen. Sullivan relentlessly pressed senior Biden administration National Security Council, Treasury Department, Commerce Department, and White House officials to include the banning of the importation of Russian seafood into the United States as part of the President’s broader sanctions package against the Putin regime.
  • On March 11, 2022, as a result of Sen. Sullivan’s advocacy, the Biden administration announced it would prohibit the importation of Russian seafood into the United States, in addition to banning goods from several other signature sectors of Russia’s economy. President Biden also announced his intention to revoke Russia’s “most-favored nation” status as a member of the World Trade Organization.
  • Despite this success, it became clear that Russian seafood oligarchs began to bypass the Biden administration’s sanctions by shipping their seafood to other countries, especially China, to then have the Russian seafood transformed and shipped into the United States almost duty-free. This loophole allowed hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of Russian seafood to escape sanctions and make it into the U.S. market, while significantly harming Alaskan and other American fishermen.
  • On April 7, 2022, Sen. Sullivan pressed Chris Magnus, then-commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB), about closing the existing loophole that gives Russian seafood non-reciprocal access to the U.S. market.
  • On March 3, 2023, Sen. Sullivan pressed Troy Miller, acting commissioner of CPB, about the existing loophole that gives Russian seafood non-reciprocal access to the U.S. market.
  • On March 21, 2023, Sen. Sullivan pressed the Russian seafood loophole issue with Wally Adeyemo, deputy secretary of the Treasury.
  • Throughout 2023, Sen. Sullivan pressed the Russian seafood loophole issue with high-level, senior Treasury, CPB and White House officials on a very regular basis, including in text messages and phone calls on June 9, June 23, August 6, August 13, October 24, October 25, November 21, December 8, and December 13.
  • On June 15, 2023, Sen. Sullivan again pressed the continued Russian seafood prohibition issue with Wally Adeyemo, deputy secretary of the Treasury.
  • On June 15, 2023, led by Sen. Sullivan, Sens. Sullivan and Murkowski introduced the updated U.S-Russian Federation Seafood Reciprocity Act of 2023, legislation that would impose a comprehensive ban on the import of all Russian-origin seafood products into the United States. Companion legislation was introduced in the House by Representatives Garret Graves (R-La.) and Mary Sattler Peltola (D-Alaska).
  • On June 22, 2023, Sen. Sullivan attempted to pass the U.S-Russian Federation Seafood Reciprocity by unanimous consent, but the bill was again blocked by Senate Democrats.
  • On August 30, 2023, Sen. Sullivan again pushed the Russian seafood loophole issue with Wally Adeyemo, deputy secretary of the treasury, and Troy Miller, CBP acting commissioner.
  • On September 26, 2023, at Sen. Sullivan’s urging, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and CBP personnel convened a seafood industry roundtable in Anchorage to discuss the Russian seafood loophole issue and to get agreement on a detailed plan to close this loophole. This was a result of Sen. Sullivan’s many discussions with both CBP and Treasury pressing them to place a meaningful prohibition on Russian seafood imports.
  • On October 24, 2023, Sen. Sullivan again pressed the Russian seafood prohibition issue in a call with Wally Adeyemo, deputy secretary of the Treasury, and continued to follow-up over the ensuing weeks.
  • On December 19, 2023, Sen. Sullivan spoke on the Senate floor about the Russian seafood prohibition issue and again urged his colleagues to pass his U.S-Russian Federation Seafood Reciprocity Act of 2023.

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