Russia’s import ban hits Alaskan seafood industry

(Photo courtesy KUCB)

(Photo courtesy KUCB)

Alaska’s seafood industry is getting caught in the middle of a power struggle between Russia and western nations.

Ever since Russia seized part of Ukraine this winter, sanctions against it have been stacking up. Now, Russia’s fighting back by banning food imports from the United States and a handful of other countries.

Alaska shipped almost $9 million worth of pollock to Russia last year. Some of it went to fast food chains, including McDonald’s. A significant chunk of it is used for making surimi — better known as fake crab.

At least one shipment of surimi was on its way to Russia when the ban came out on Thursday. Undercurrent News reports that the fish could get diverted to South Korea or another eastern market.

That’s got some American fishing advocates fired up. A former U.S. Congressman has started the “Just Say Nyet” campaign, seeking a corresponding ban on Russian fish coming into the States.

But it’s slow going: As of Friday afternoon, his petition to the federal government had only gathered 18 signatures.