By Svetlana Mentyukova
In the first six months of 2013, imports of the expensive red king crab into Japan grew fivefold, while imports of one of the cheapest varieties, the spider crab, dropped by 22 per cent. This happened after Russia and Japan signed an agreement on joint measures to tackle fish and shellfish poaching.
One of the by-products of that agreement is that poachers have decided to concentrate their efforts on the more expensive varieties of crab.
The change in the preferences of poachers operating in Russia's exclusive economic zone has been recorded by the customs authority of Hokkaido (Japan). According to it, in the first six months of 2013, imports of spider crab fell by 22 per cent against the same period in 2012; while imports of red king crab increased by 400 per cent.
Similar changes in the structure of crab imports have been recorded in an official report by the Japanese Finance Ministry, according to which the overall amount of fish and shellfish imports into Japan stood at 17,780 tonnes, including 8,640 tonnes of red king crab and 5,200 tonnes of spider crab.
According to the Russian Federal Customs Service, in the first six months of 2013, declared exports of crab to Japan amounted to a mere 600 kg, or one-thirtieth of the Japanese figure.
According to the Russian Audit Chamber, 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, amounts to at least 15-30 billion roubles every year.
This figure is higher than the total financial balance of the Russian fishing industry, which stands at 14.4 billion roubles. More....