President Joe Biden announced a ban on Russian imports Friday, including seafood products, a move Alaska’s lawmakers have been pursuing for years.
Biden said during a news conference at the White House the U.S. was banning the importation of Russian seafood, alcohol and diamonds, according to the Associated Press. The U.S. was also downgrading its trade status with Russia allowing America and its allies to raise tariffs on Russian products.
The U.S. and many other nations have dramatically cut their ties with Russia following that country’s invasion of Ukraine.
In Alaska, the news was met with praise from lawmakers who have been calling on the federal government to ban Russian products. Russia banned imports of American seafood in 2014 in response to sanctions put on the Russian Federation following its annexation of Crimea.
Alaska’s congressional delegation has put forward bills in both the House of Representatives and Senate that would ban Russian imports, but those bills have faced opposition from lawmakers from states with seafood processing plants.
U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both Alaska Republicans, introduced last month the U.S-Russian Federation Seafood Reciprocity Act, which would have banned the importation of Russian seafood.
“I appreciate and strongly support the announcement by President Biden today that the United States will ban the importation of Russian seafood,” Sullivan said in a statement. “I’ve been advocating for such a move by our federal government through legislation and advocacy with top Cabinet officials during the Obama, Trump and Biden administrations.”
U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, made similar statements Friday and said he would continue to push for his own bill to ban Russian seafood in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“I’ve spent weeks calling for a Russian seafood ban, and I’m pleased to see President Biden following my lead and taking action,” Young said. “A ban is a crucially important move, which is why I’ve been advocating so strongly for it among my colleagues in Congress.”
At the Alaska State Capitol, legislative leaders said the ban would likely increase prices for Alaskan seafood, which would benefit the state even as Alaskans pay higher prices for fish.
“I think we’re going to see a whole lot less Russian King Crab,” said Speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives, Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak. “I would say it’s worth it.”
Russia’s war with Ukraine and the resulting sanctions have shocked the global economy and led to a spike in the price of oil. Many of Alaska’s lawmakers including Gov. Mike Dunleavy have called for increased resource production in Alaska as a way of combating U.S. dependence on foreign countries.
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.