By Eugene Gerden – June 28, 2016 (SeafoodNews.com)
Russia announced a controversial plan to lift a ban on trawling in order to raise its crab catch to 72,000 metric tons a year by 2018.
According to a proposed plan by Russian fishery officials with Rosrybolovstvo, the production of red King Crab in Kamchatka by 2018 should be increased four times, compared to the current figures to 20,000 metric tons. At the same time the overall crab catch in Russia during the next two years would increase from 56,700 to 72,000 metric tons per year.
Russia is completing preparations for the beginning of crab fishing season. Last year the volume of crab catch out of the Kamchatka region increased by 1.5 times to 5,580 metric tons. The catch was valued at 15 billion rubles (US$300 million).
Overal, Russia’s total crab catch last year was 56,700 metric tons of which almost 90 percent was exported. Japan currently remains the largest market for Russian crab. In 2015, exports the Japanese market totaled 35,000 metric tons. At the same time, the volume of supplies to the United States totaled 10,000 metric tons. The South Korean market took another 10,000 metric tons.
However, crab catch volumes are considered insufficient by the Russian government, which is what prompted lifting the trawl ban.
However, these plans have already been criticised by some leading Russian analysts in the field of fisheries.
According to the Kamchatka Research Institute of the Fishing Industry, one of Russia’s leading research institutions, since the 1990s population of snow crab off the coast of Kamchatka has decreased by four times from 56 million to 12.5 million and there is a possibility that it may further decline in view of the planned increase of production.
Scientists of the Kamchatka Research Institute of the Fishing Industry fear that a significant increase of crab production in Russia may result in repeating a situation observed in Alaska in the 1970s, when the uncontrolled catch of king crab resulted in the depletion of local population by 10 times.
Reprinted with permission of SeafoodNews.com