“China doesn’t catch cod. They don’t catch pollock. But yet, they’re one of the largest exporters of these whitefish in the world,” said Sally Yozell, a former policy director at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who now is a senior fellow at the Stimson Center in Washington. “Having it labeled as a Chinese product is really not fair to the consumers and to restaurants.”
A U.S. ban on seafood imports from Russia over its invasion of Ukraine was supposed to sap billions of dollars from Vladimir Putin’s war machine, AP reports.
But shortcomings in import regulations mean that Russian-caught pollock, salmon and crab are likely to enter the U.S. anyway, by way of the country vital to seafood supply chains across the world: China.
Like the U.S. seafood industry, Russian companies rely heavily on China to process their catch. Once there, the seafood can be re-exported to the U.S. as a “product of China” because country of origin labeling isn’t required.
The result is that nearly a third of the wild-caught fish imported from China is estimated to have been caught in Russian waters, according to an International Trade Commission study of 2019 data. For pollock and sockeye salmon, the rate is even higher — 50% to 75%.
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