Boycotting Russia? Watch out for king crab, says Seattle fishmonger

Apr 15, 2022, 6:07 AM
king crab...
(credit listener Mark in the 253)
(credit listener Mark in the 253)

Many people are choosing to boycott Russian products like vodka and caviar because of the war in Ukraine — but they may not know to watch out for their king crab.

Even though Washington is a seafood haven and the crab-filled waters off Alaska are just to the north, king crab from the Russian side of the Bering Sea is commonly found in local stores.

KIRO Newsradio listener Mark works at a shipyard in Milton, where he sees boxes of Russian king crab coming in and getting loaded onto trucks bound for local grocery stores.

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Jaison Scott, co-owner of the Pike Place Fish Market, told KIRO Newsradio that he was not surprised to hear this.

“My experience — there’s a lot of Russian king crab out there,” he said.

The reason for this, he said, is that it is usually cheaper for stores to buy — especially at the moment, given Russia’s unpopularity.

“I’ve seen prices drop like crazy. Right now, I know there’s Russian king crab out there if you want to buy it,” Scott said. “We’ve been offered that. We don’t buy it, but I know what the price is. I think they want to dump it just to get rid of it — I think because of the bad press.”

The Pike Place Fish Market decided years ago not to buy Russian crab — or crab from anywhere other than American waters, for that matter.

“We just wanted to support American crab fishermen,” Scott explained. “We had sold it a long time ago and it was just a decision we made, just to help support American crab fishermen.”

However, he said other fishmongers have not made that commitment.

Scott keeps an eye on crab at stores he visits because he is in the industry, but he noted that other people may be surprised that their seafood is not all domestic.

“I think they just assume that it’s from Alaska, it’s king crab,” Scott said. “But I think it’s good to ask those questions, as a consumer.”

And that is exactly his recommendation, if you wish to boycott Russian products. When in doubt, ask.

“By law you’re supposed to label country of origin, but some people don’t label that,” he said.

KIRO Newsradio asked Costco, as well as the parent companies of Fred Meyer, QFC, Safeway, and Albertson’s, if they sell Russian king crab. None of the retailers have responded.

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Boycotting Russia? Watch out for king crab, says Seattle fishmonger