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Alaska fishermen lose MILLIONS of dollars amid US-Russia sanctions war

Alaska fishermen lose MILLIONS of dollars amid US-Russia sanctions war
Fishermen in Alaska are losing up to $60 million annually after access to one of their key markets was cut in 2014, when Russia imposed a food embargo in retaliation to US sanctions.

Russia bought an average $40 million worth of seafood products from Alaska’s producers between 2010-2013, according to data from the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI), cited by the Anchorage Daily News. In 2013, the year prior to Western restrictions, the purchases surged to a record $61.3 million, with salmon roe accounting for more than 76 percent of the export value.

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Thus Russia used to be the second most important export market for Alaska salmon roe after Japan. However, it is not only the loss of the major customer that bothers local producers but also increased competition from Russian rivals in the domestic seafood market.

This is because no one stopped Russian exporters from shipping their products to the US despite Moscow’s embargo on American goods. Moreover, most seafood imports are not subjected to any duties, the ASMI says. Russian fishermen are benefiting from this state of affairs as the value of Russian seafood exports to the US has jumped almost 70 percent in five years from 2013 – from $326 million to $551 million. Additionally, the US imported $50 million of pollock from China that was caught in Russia.

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Waters off Russia's Far East are as much rich in crab as Alaskan ones, while the same fish species could be found in both regions making local producers direct competitors in key markets. However, Russian seafood products attract customers with much lower prices.

“As Russian seafood producers increase the quality and volume of products that compete directly with US production, the US is unable to compete for a large and growing Russian domestic market,” the ASMI concluded. It also warned that the trade imbalance may even get worse as Russia is actively investing in its fishery industry and could further boost the value of its global seafood to reach $8 billion in four years.

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