Russia’s invasion of Ukraine creates turmoil for global seafood market

Russian seafood exports to the United States and European Union are likely to be curtailed as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russian seafood exports to the United States and European Union are likely to be curtailed as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed Russian forces entered Ukraine on Wednesday, 23 February. In response, U.S. President Joe Biden, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced planned sanctions against Russia after its military forces engaged in a full-scale invasion of the former Soviet territory, which became an independent country in 1991.

Stock markets around the world shed billions in value and oil prices surged, amid fears the turmoil will send food and energy prices higher.

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said the bloc will hit Russia's trade, energy, and transportation sectors with sanctions and impose additional export controls.

"[It will be] the harshest package of sanctions we have ever implemented,” he told Reuters.

Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country will cancel all existing export permits for Russia and will not issue new ones, according to the Associated Press.

And the United States will impose “severe cost on the Russian economy, both immediately and over time” through additional sanctions, according to Biden, speaking at a press conference on Thursday, 24 February, CNN reported.

U.S. seafood importers should expect the sanctions to have an impact, the National Fisheries Institute said in a statement.

“The National Fisheries Institute recognizes the need for governments to use a variety of tools to implement effective foreign policy.  With the recently announced sanctions, it is likely that imports of Russian seafood could be affected,” it said.

A recent effort by U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) to pass a ban on U.S. seafood imports from Russia, which encountered resistance from U.S. Sen. Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) on 22 February,  could be revived following Russia’s Ukraine invasion.

“Senators Sullivan and Markey agreed last week to work together to ensure a bill meets both of their needs. NFI looks forward to seeing what comes from that collaboration,” NFI said.

Food products represented 7.2 percent of Russia’s total exports in 2021, and seafood exports reached 1.17 million metric tons (MT) between January and September 2021. The U.S. imported USD 551 million (EUR 491.5 million) of seafood from Russia in 2018, 84 percent of which was crab, though that total does not include an estimated USD 50 million (EUR 44.6 million) in pollock products from China that primarily consisted of pollock caught in Russia, according to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

In 2019, the U.S. imported 80.2 million pounds of seafood from Russia with a value of more than USD 698 million. That included 16 million pounds of red king crab worth USD 293 million (EUR 261.3 million) and 4.6 million pounds of frozen sockeye salmon with a value of USD 16.7 million (EUR 14.9 million), according to U.S. trade data.

Photo courtesy of Seneline/Shutterstock


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