US senators introduce bill to drop the ‘Alaska’ from pollock name

US senators Lisa Murkowski and Maria Cantwell have on Sept. 29 introduced bipartisan legislation to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to change the market name of “Alaska pollock” to “pollock”.

The bill, from Alaska Republican Murkowski and Washington Democrat Cantwell, aims to better distinguish the pollock harvested in Alaskan waters from Russian pollock being sold as “Alaskan pollock” in stores nationwide.

This legislation is co-sponsored by Alaska Republican senator Dan Sullivan and Patty Murray, a democrat from Washington.

In 2012, 113 million pounds of Russian pollock were sold to US consumers as “Alaska pollock", states a press release from Murkowski's office.

“Alaska is known world-wide for our top quality seafood. When consumers seek out the words, ‘Alaska, wild-caught’ at the grocery store, they shouldn’t be deceived by what they are actually getting,” said Murkowski. “The change in nomenclature is necessary to avoid ongoing misrepresentation of the origin of pollock that is purchased and consumed in the US.”

“Today, all pollock can be labeled as Alaskan – no matter where it’s caught. The Alaskan pollock fishery is one of the most sustainable fisheries in the world, and consumers have a right to know if the Pollock they see in the grocery store, or on a menu, is real, sustainable Alaskan pollock caught by American fishermen,” said Cantwell.

This bill also makes a similar change to golden king crab, which can only be legally labeled as brown king crab, even though it is known as golden king crab today.

The Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers (GAPP) support these efforts, according to the release.

Over a year ago, GAPP requested that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) make a change to the common or usual name under which Alaska pollock can be sold.

The bill is the result of a long standing effort to get the FDA to change the name. Senator Murkowski has reached out to the FDA multiple times to push for the market name to be changed, including writing a letter to the FDA commissioner this past May, wrote John Sackton, publisher of Seafood News, last week.