For a brief moment, it appeared the balance of power in Alaska pollock -- the world’s largest and most important whitefish resource -- was shifting in favor of Russia.

Thanks to an ambitious federal program that allocated harvesting quota in exchange for new processing and vessel construction, billions of dollars were spent upgrading the industry with state-of-the art vessels and facilities that not only stood out in Russia, but worldwide.

The investments were paying off. For example, exports of higher-value pollock fillets – versus the headed and gutted fish companies have traditionally shipped -- increased 36.6