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Russia crab export to Japan actually halted after anti-smuggling deal takes effect

December 22, 2014, 8:47 UTC+3 TOKYO
The document enacted this month is destined to put an end to poaching and smuggling primarily of crabs
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© EPA/NABIL MOUNZER

TOKYO, December 22. /TASS/. Calls of Russian ships at Japanese harbours with crab catches almost halted after the bilateral agreement on counteraction to illegal, undeclared and unregulated fishing took effect on December 10, local authorities told TASS on Monday.

The document enacted this month is destined to put an end to poaching and smuggling primarily of crabs.

“Since December 10 we have not had a single ship with crabs from Russia,” a representative in a port of Mombetsu municipality on the northernmost island of Hokkaido which is the main center for export of these sea products from Russia told TASS. Meanwhile, four ships with Russian crabs called at this port on December 9, a day before the accord took effect.

On the same day nine ships with the same cargoes were reported at the port of Wakkanai, Hokkaido, another quite important hub of crabs exported from Russia. “After the accord was enacted in the previous week only one ship arrived,” a representative of the sea product department of local municipality told TASS.

A Mombetsu fish-processing company noted that they did not remember a situation when not a single ship with crabs had come from Russia for a week ahead of the New Year, the hottest trading season. As many as 25 thousand tons were delivered to Hokkaido from Russia in the previous year, 17 thousand fell on the port of Mombetsu. In some years this import has reached 60 thousand tons to the northernmost Japanese island. Around 90% of crabs sold at a central wholesale marketplace in the city of Sapporo, an administrative centre of Hokkaido, fell on Russia. In the same city of Mombetsu the wholesale snow crab price has skyrocketed 3-4 times.

According to the current deal, Japanese ports can receive Russian fishermen’s catches only if a special certificate is produced since December 10. Russian fisheries agency is authorised to issue a document verifying that the origin of the produce is lawful. The agency noted that the two countries provided this way for terms ruling out delivery and sale of illegally caught water bioresources. Japanese media has earlier actually admitted that a large part of Russian crabs supplied to the country was smuggled. According to the reports in 2012 each fifth crab is caught illegally off Russia’s Far East.

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