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Seafood biz braces for losses of jobs, fish due to sanctions

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PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The worldwide seafood business is steeling alone for selling price hikes, supply disruptions and prospective work losses as new rounds of economic sanctions on Russia make vital species these as cod and crab tougher to come by.

The latest spherical of U.S. makes an attempt to punish Russia for the invasion of Ukraine contains bans on imports of seafood, alcoholic beverages and diamonds. The U.S. is also stripping “most favored nation status” from Russia. Nations close to the world are taking related ways.

Russia is one particular of the major producers of seafood in the earth, and was the fifth-largest producer of wild-caught fish, according to a 2020 report by the Food and Agriculture Firm of the United Nations.

A cod to be auctioned sits on ice at the Portland Fish Exchange, in Portland, Maine. Russia, along with Iceland and Norway, remains a major producer of the white fish, which it harvests from the Barents Sea and other frigid oceans. The U.S. is clamping down on trade with Russia, and is targeting seafood in particular.

A cod to be auctioned sits on ice at the Portland Fish Trade, in Portland, Maine. Russia, together with Iceland and Norway, remains a key producer of the white fish, which it harvests from the Barents Sea and other frigid oceans. The U.S. is clamping down on trade with Russia, and is focusing on seafood in distinct.

Russia is not just one of the largest exporters of seafood to the U.S., but it’s a world leader in exports of cod (the desire for fish and chips in the U.S.). It is also a significant provider of crabs and Alaska pollock, commonly used in fast-food sandwiches and processed merchandise like fish sticks.

The impact is probably to be felt globally, as effectively as in places with doing work waterfronts. A single of individuals is Maine, in which a lot more than $50 million in seafood merchandise from Russia handed by way of Portland in 2021, according to federal statistics.

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“If you’re getting cod from Russia, it’s likely to be a problem,” stated Glen Libby, an owner of Port Clyde Refreshing Capture, a seafood market place in Tenants Harbor, Maine. “That’s fairly a mess. We’ll see how it turns out.”

Russia exported extra than 28 million lbs (12.7 million kilograms) of cod to the U.S. from Jan. 1, 2020, to Jan. 31, 2022, according to census data.

The European Union and United Kingdom are both deeply dependent on Russian seafood. And costs of seafood are presently spiking in Japan, a important seafood client that is limiting its trade with Russia.

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In the U.K., wherever fish and chips are a cultural marker, store homeowners and people alike are bracing for price tag surges. British fish and chip retailers have been already facing a squeeze for the reason that of soaring strength expenditures and mounting food stuff rates.

Andrew Crook, head of the Nationwide Federation of Fish Friers, explained before this month that — even prior to the war — he envisioned a third of Britain’s fish and chip retailers to go out of business enterprise. If fish charges shoot up even bigger, “we are in authentic dire straits,” he said.

In mid-March, the U.K. slapped a 35% tariff hike on Russian whitefish, like chip-store staples cod and haddock.

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“We’re a massive section of U.K. tradition and it would be a shame to see that go,” he instructed broadcaster ITV.

U.S. buyers are most most likely to recognize the impression of sanctions by using price tag and availability of fish, claimed Kanae Tokunaga, who runs the Coastal and Marine Economics Lab at Gulf of Maine Investigation Institute in Portland.

“Because seafood is a worldwide commodity, even if they are not harvested in Russia, you will notice the value hike,” Tokunaga reported.

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In the U.S., the dependence on overseas cod stems to the reduction of its own at the time-robust Atlantic cod fishery that cratered in the face of overfishing and environmental variations. U.S. fishermen, primarily based primarily in New England, introduced much more than 100 million kilos (45.4 million kilograms) of cod to the docks for each 12 months in the early 1980s, but the 2020 catch was fewer than 2 million pounds (900,000 kilograms).

Regulators have attempted to preserve the fishery with management measures these types of as quite minimal fishing quotas, and numerous fishermen focusing on other East Coast groundfish species these types of as haddock and flounder now stay clear of cod completely.

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Seafood processors in Massachusetts are concerned about job losses due to decline of Russian solutions, Democratic U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, who does help sanctions on Russia, mentioned.

“I have read from seafood processors in my home state with problems about prospective unexpected consequences of a new, instant ban on imports on their workforce, which include hundreds of union employees in the seafood processing field,” he mentioned on the Senate flooring in February.

For U.S. producers of seafood staples these types of as fish and chips, the lack of Russian cod could signify pivoting to other foreign sources, explained Walt Golet, a study assistant professor at the University of Maine’s Faculty of Marine Sciences.

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“We could possibly be ready to bring in additional from Norway, a minor a lot more from Canadian fisheries,” Golet reported. “It really is driven by the price tag of individuals imports.”

As an option, producers and individuals could try underutilized fish species caught domestically, this sort of as Atlantic pollock and redfish, mentioned Ben Martens, govt director of Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association.

“Maybe this is a time to use haddock or hake or probably monkfish, something diverse,” Martens claimed. “If it’s going to disrupt offer chains it does present an chance for other species to fill that void.”

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Connected Push writer Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.

This post originally appeared on The Bulletin: Seafood biz braces for losses of work, fish owing to sanctions

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