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The Alaskan congressional delegation is praising the signing of an executive order by President Joe Biden on Friday morning that empowers the United States to combat predatory foreign trawlers, particularly in the Bering Sea and North Pacific regions.

Rep. Mary Peltola (D-AK) celebrated a pro-fish decision she brought to national attention to support fishermen in Alaska.

The order builds upon existing U.S. sanctions against Russia by closing a loophole to prevent seafood harvested in Russian waters or by Russia-flagged vessels processed in third countries, such as China, from entering the US market.

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"Thank you to our Alaskan fishermen, the Alaska delegation, and countless Alaskans who have worked tirelessly to educate the Administration on this issue," Rep. Peltola said. "I cannot stress enough the importance of safeguarding our North Pacific Ocean and ensuring the economic well-being of Alaskan fishermen. We must not turn a blind eye to the alarming threat that unregulated foreign trawlers pose to our local fishermen and marine ecosystems. Today, we have achieved a major milestone in pro-fish policymaking, equipping us with the necessary tools to fiercely protect our interests and promote sustainable fishing practices. I was proud to work with my Alaska delegation partners and the Administration to implement this crucial policy change that will protect Alaskan fishermen and cut off one of Putin’s revenue sources for his bloody war in Ukraine.” 

Russian vessels that operate in the Bering Sea and North Pacific regions are a significant problem for Alaskan fishermen. These largely unregulated vessels circumvent U.S. sanctions applied after the Russian invasion of Ukraine by reprocessing their fish in China. Recent reporting from the Outlaw Ocean Project has shown that this processing often occurs using forced labor by Uyghur ethnic minorities in China. This seafood is then exported to America at artificially low prices, undercutting Alaskan fishermen. 

The new Executive Order will also amend E.O. 14068 to further ensure that Russia is not able to skirt certain import bans by exporting goods indirectly via third countries to the United States, specifically in regards to certain diamonds mined in Russia and seafood harvested in Russian waters or by Russia-flagged vessels that are later substantially transformed in third countries.  The expanded prohibitions will be active once the appropriate departments issue determinations naming covered goods.

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