Red king crab. (Photo Credit: Alaska Department of Fish and Game)
Crab poaching rises before agreement with Japan is fully enforced
Monday, August 26, 2013, 00:10 (GMT + 9)
In the first half of 2013, red king crab imports into Japan grew drastically compared to those in the previous year while those of cheaper varieties of crab dropped. This situation takes place just after Russia and Japan signed an agreement on joint measures to put an end to fish and shellfish poaching.
According to Russia’s Federal Customs Service, Russian crab exports to Japan were only 600 tonnes while the Japanese official statistics for Russian imports state they proved to be 30 times higher, Kommersant reported.
The customs authority of Hokkaido (Japan) found out that after the agreement, poachers have decided to catch more expensive varieties of crab.
This entity states that in the first six months of 2013 imports of spider crab fell by 22 per cent compared to the same period in 2012 whereas imports of red king crab increased by 400 per cent.
The Far Eastern Association of crab producers agrees that the change in the poachers' preferences seems to be one of the collateral effects of the agreement that was signed.
"There are few of those willing to take risks for the sake of spider crab, the price for which has seldom risen above RUB 4-5 per kilo. Whereas red king crab, which can fetch RUB 12-16 per kilo, has become a more desirable catch," remarked a spokesman for the association to the Russian newspaper Kommersant.
It seems that as the illegal fishing agreement signed between Russia and Japan was not yet ratified, poachers are trying to take full advantage.
The Russian Audit Chamber revealed that the cost of illegal imports of aquatic biological resources, without taking into account unpaid taxes, levies for the use of marine bioresources and customs duties, represents a big loss for Russia.
According to this body, the country loses between RUB 15 billion (USD 4.5 million) and RUB 30 billion (USD 9 million), which exceeds the country’s complete legal fishing industry.
By Gabriela Raffaele