Murkowski, Sullivan fail to acknowledge Trump tariffs as threat to Alaska fishing

Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan called on the Trump administration to help subsidize the fishing industry in Alaska and deal with the economic fallout of the Trump trade war with China.

In September, they asked that the federal government buy $100 million worth of pollock under a long-established programs to use federal funds to buy “surplus commodities.” This would “mitigate the impacts of harmful tariffs” and provide healthy food to Americans who get federal help, according to the senators.

But they didn’t mention the president as the catalyst for the retaliatory tariffs imposed by China on Alaska seafood and other products. The Trump administration began the trade war with tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese products, levies that could increase to from 10 percent to 25 percent Jan. 1.

China responded with $110 billion in tariffs and could increase that if the U.S. expands the war. Alaska’s senators are silent on the U.S. role.

“Retaliatory tariffs put in place by China are threatening this industry,” the senators said of the fishing business.

The Trump administration has gone along with the Alaska delegation in part by agreeing to buy $30 million worth of pollock as a price-support measure.

“This support will go a long way to blunt the effects of the retaliatory tariffs from China, particularly their impacts on Alaska’s coastal communities and fishermen,” said Sullivan, who never criticizes Trump.

“Unfortunately, in light of the retaliatory tariffs imposed by China on Alaska pollock products, many of those involved in the industry have suffered,” said Murkowski, who seldom criticizes Trump.

The Murkowski press release on this topic said the federal fish buy is not associated with efforts “to provide relief for farmers and producers which have been negatively affected by unfair trade exercises.”

The Trump administration started a trade war with China without a coherent strategy or any concern about the damage it could inflict on fishing or any other industry in the United States. Alaska’s U.S. senators just can’t bring themselves to say that or push back.

The $30 million in seafood purchases will be under the so-called “Section 32” program.

“The premise for commodity purchases is that removing products from normal marketing channels helps to limit supply and thereby increase prices and farm income. Purchased commodities are diverted to the National School Lunch Program and other domestic food assistance programs,” the Congressional Research Service says.

Dermot Cole2 Comments