MOSCOW, August 20 (RIA Novosti) – Japan, which obtains most of its crab imports from Russia, received significantly more crab from its northern neighbor than Russia officially exported, indicating rampant poaching activity, a Russian newspaper said Tuesday.
Russian crab exports to Japan in the first half of this year stood at a mere 600 tons, according to Russia’s Federal Customs Service, while Japanese official statistics for Russian imports showed the figure to be 30 times higher, Kommersant reported.
The structure of Japanese imports also indicated that poachers have lately focused on the more expensive red king crab, whose share grew compared with the cheaper snow crab, the report said.
Illegal crab harvesters are trying to maximize their profits before a new Russian-Japanese anti-poaching agreement comes into force, banning Russian fishermen from selling their produce in Japan and China without official certification, the Far Eastern Crab Fisher Association was cited as saying. The deal is currently pending ratification.
Russia is losing an estimated $15 billion to $30 billion a year to poaching of its aquatic bioresources, a sum exceeding the balanced financial result of its entire legal fishing industry, according to the country’s Audit Chamber.
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New ties between Russia and Japan would mark not only a breakthrough in their relations but also a significant shift in Northeast Asia’s political dynamic. Both are secondary players in a region overshadowed by an increasingly assertive China, which has not hesitated to push against the boundaries of its neighbors.