Press Releases

Congressman Young Takes Up Misleading Pollock and Crab Labeling Fight in U.S. House

Fishermen, businesses and consumers misled, harmed when 4 out of 10 “Alaskan Pollock” are actually caught in Russian waters

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Washington, D.C., October 22, 2015 | comments

WASHINGTON, DCAlaska Congressman Don Young and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) today introduced bipartisan legislation to change the market name of “Alaska pollock” to “pollock.” The bill would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to eliminate confusion for consumers, and stem the flood of mislabeled fish from less sustainable fisheries that harms U.S. pollock fishermen and the businesses they support.   

Under current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeling standards, pollock caught in any part of the world can be labeled as “Alaskan pollock.” Approximately 40% of the fish labeled “Alaskan pollock” available to American consumers is caught in the Russian pollock fishery. 

“The U.S. fishing industry and the American consumer deserve this commonsense change to the pollock name,” said Congressman Don Young. “There’s no reason why foreign caught pollock should be disguised as Alaskan, especially given the significant management efforts we’ve taken in the North Pacific to create the most sustainable fishery in the world. No other nation can replicate the quality and care we put into Alaskan seafood and the FDA’s labeling standards should reflect that. Unfortunately, an Act of Congress is the only immediate way to keep foreign caught pollock from degrading our U.S. seafood markets.”

“Americans want to know where their food is coming from. This bill will give American consumers more transparency by closing this FDA loophole that allows Russian pollock from Chinese processors to flood our markets under the label ‘Alaskan pollock,’” said Rep. Herrera Beutler. “If a mom in Vancouver wants to purchase fish caught sustainably and packaged truthfully, she should have that choice. With this legislative fix, we’re also ensuring that pollock fishing and processing businesses located in Southwest Washington and throughout the U.S. aren’t having to compete with deceptively labeled products from far less sustainable fisheries.”

A consumer survey conducted by GMA Research revealed that:

  • 77% of participants said that if they saw seafood labeled as “Alaska Pollock,” they would think the seafood is harvested in Alaska.
  • 81% of participants said they would feel misled if they purchased seafood labeled as “Alaska pollock” and found out it was harvested from somewhere else.

The Alaskan pollock fishery is the nation's largest food fishery in the United States, producing 1.3 million tons annually and accounting for 11 percent of American fresh and frozen fish intake. The Alaskan pollock fishery is carefully managed for sustainability, safety and environmental impact.

The bipartisan legislation also works to resolve an outstanding nomenclature petition to the FDA, filed by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) and the Alaska Golden King Crab Coalition in 2014, to change the Brown King Crab name (considered obsolete and sometimes confusing in U.S. markets) to the acceptable market name of Golden King Crab.

Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).

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