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GLOBEFISH - Análisis e información comercial en pesquerias

TAC increases for snow and king crab in the Russian Federation

29/11/2017

The report analyses the market situation until June 2017

The Russian Federation has larger quotas for crab in 2017, and in turn supplies are expected to improve. In the United States of America, Pacific landings have been disappointing. Prices are currently exceptionally high as demand in Asia is strong.

Supplies

In the Russian Federation, landings of crab in the Kamchatka peninsula were up 22 percent by the end of August, with 13 700 tonnes landed. The catch consisted of bairdi snow crab and opilio crab. The king crab fishery in the region started only on 1 September, and the quota has been increased to 11 500 tonnes (+29.2 percent). The total TAC for the Russian Federation’s Far East crab fisheries are up by 7 000 tonnes to 73 500 tonnes for 2017.

Russian Federation authorities have been cracking down on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) crab fishing and illegal exports of crabs, yet poachers continue to find new ways to operate. Many crab poachers have started using transport ships to send their IUU cargo from the Russian Federation to Japanese and Republic of Korean ports. Poachers are also using ships under flags of convenience, as these ships are not strictly controlled.

In the United States of America, the dungeness crab fishery in southeast Alaska closed two weeks early this year on 25 July as there has been a dramatic shortage of crab in 2017. During the first weeks of fishing, landings amounted to only 274 tonnes, compared with the over 1 020 tonnes needed to keep the season open for the full two months. In contrast, the California dungeness crab fishery, which last year was hampered by traces of domoic acid presence, has had a very good season. A total of 9 500 tonnes of dungeness crab were landed in California ports, at a value of USD 66.7 million.

International trade

In general, there has been a stagnation or decline in the volume of international crab trade lately. The combined imports of the top three importers of crab (the United States of America, China and Republic of Korea) show a slight decline (-1 percent, to 182 200 tonnes) during the first six months of 2017 compared with the same period in 2016. Of course there were marked differences from country to country. US and Republic of Korean imports were slightly down, (-0.5 percent and -5 percent respectively), while China’s imports increased by 28.1 percent. Japanese crab imports during this period fell by one third, from 19 200 tonnes in 2016 to 12 800 tonnes in 2017. On the export side, Russian Federation exports were up by 28 percent during the period, to 29 300 tonnes. Most of that increase went directly to the Republic of Korea. In contrast, Chinese exports declined by 13.3 percent to 30 000 tonnes. There were declining shipments from China to both the Republic of Korea and Taiwan Province of China.

Prices

Snow crab prices have been very high this year, mainly due to strong and growing demand in Asia. Buyers in Japan, Republic of Korea and China have all been quite active, while US retailers have been buying much less. The high prices are apparently scaring US supermarkets away from the product. Fishing activity for king crab in the Barents Sea is increasing, as prices are sky high, with king crab fetching four times as much as snow crab.

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