Senators Cantwell and Murkowski Introduce Legislation to Protect Pacific Northwest Seafood

Senators’ Legislation Requires Label Change to Remove Misrepresentation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced bipartisan legislation to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to change the market name of “Alaska pollock” to “pollock”. The change aims to better distinguish the pollock harvested in Alaskan waters from Russian pollock passing itself off as “Alaskan pollock” in stores nationwide. This legislation is co-sponsored by Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA).

In 2012, 113 million pounds of Russian pollock were sold to U.S. consumers as “Alaska pollock.” Senators Cantwell and Murkowski believe the labeling move is necessary because the Alaskan Pollock fishery is far more sustainable and produces higher quality products compared to international Pollock fisheries. 

“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 Senator Cantwell.

“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 Senator Murkowski. “The change in nomenclature is necessary to avoid ongoing misrepresentation of the origin of pollock that is purchased and consumed in the U.S.”  

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 and have previously cited several reasons for the requested change:

•             The use of “Alaska pollock” as an acceptable market name is misleading to consumers;

•             “Alaska pollock” is understood by consumers to connote a geographic origin, not a particular kind of food from any geographic origin;

•             The use of “Alaska pollock” as an acceptable market name is inconsistent with other similar fish species; and

•             U.S. government programs support other efforts to provide accurate information to consumers about the seafood they purchase.