Cantwell Commends Executive Order Curbing Imports of Russian Seafood to Protect WA Markets and Fishermen

December 22, 2023

Today, President Biden issued an Executive Order to strengthen U.S. sanctions on Russian financial institutions and import bans on certain Russian goods, including Russian seafood. U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, released the following statement applauding the Executive Order:

"I commend the Biden-Harris Administration for taking decisive action to close loopholes allowing illegal Russian seafood to infiltrate the U.S. market, jeopardizing the hardworking fishermen of Washington State and Alaska. By processing their products in third countries like China, these bad actors have undermined our domestic fishing industry. This strong stance reaffirms our unwavering support for American fishermen, who risk their lives to feed our nation.

“I look forward to collaborating with the Administration to ensure that the seafood products covered by this executive action prioritize the interests of our fishing communities. Together, we will work toward a sustainable future for our blue economy, safeguarding the livelihoods of our fishermen and the health of our fisheries,” said Sen. Cantwell.

According to the Department of the Treasury, the new amendment to Executive Order 14068 will further ensure that Russia is not able to skirt certain import bans by exporting goods indirectly via third countries to the United States, specifically in regard to seafood harvested in Russian waters or by Russia-flagged vessels that are later substantially transformed in third countries. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control will issue a determination prohibiting the importation and entry into the United States of salmon, cod, pollock or crab produced or harvested in Russia, even if such product has been incorporated or substantially transformed into another product outside of the Russian Federation.  

Sen. Cantwell has long supported legislation that would protect Washington state’s seafood industry and jobs, which currently supports 10,000 jobs and is worth $1.2 billion. Recently, Congress passed Sen. Cantwell’s legislation to reauthorize the Maritime Administration, which will expand investment opportunities to modernize ports, maritime infrastructure and shipbuilding and expand workforce education and training. In the wake of the fishing disaster declarations last December, Sen. Cantwell secured $300 million in economic relief for fishing families impacted by cancelled crab and salmon harvests.