How is this for a fish story? According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, millions of pounds of fish caught by Russian fishermen on Russian vessels in Russian waters each year are labeled and sold in the U.S. as "Alaska pollock." Surveys have shown that consumers overwhelmingly think this means their fish is from Alaska. But it isn’t.

As American consumers increasingly care about where their fish comes from and if it is sustainable, Chinese processors of Russian pollock have been able to co-opt Alaska’s stellar reputation for quality fish. They sell Russian fish that is less sustainably caught and frozen, defrosted, and then frozen again and can call it ‘Alaska pollock.’ They can do this because the FDA currently allows Russian pollock to be sold under the FDA approved market name ‘Alaska pollock.’ This FDA loophole is especially egregious in light of Russia’s recent ban on US seafood, meaning Alaskan producers can no longer sell their fish in Russia.

In response, a coalition of Alaska fisheries called the “Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers” (GAPP)—with the support of 15 U.S. representatives and senators—recently filed a formal request with the FDA for a simple and just solution: change the acceptable market name of ‘Alaska pollock’ to simply ‘pollock’. This would be consistent with 98 percent of FDA practice in establishing market names for fish species, where the FDA tries to avoid a geographic designation wherever possible. The FDA should honor these requests and end this deceptive practice.

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