Crimea has big ambitions for oyster and mussel exports

Published on
February 28, 2020

The aquaculture industry of the Crimean Peninsula – a territory disputed by Russia and Ukraine that has been under Russian control since 2014 – is crossing borders to deliver seafood to external markets as the region seeks to expand the industry.

In 2020, Crimean aquaculture companies plan to start sales in Armenia, Belarus and Kazakhstan – the countries of the European-Asian Economic Union (EAEU) –Crimea’s Minister for Agriculture Andrey Ryumshin said, according to the TASS news agency.

He added that 2020 will see the growth of aquaculture output in the region to 2,680 metric tons (MT), which includes oysters, mussels, shrimps, and other species – with mussels and oysters dominating the harvest and sales.

According to Ryumshin other priority markets for local producers are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Yaroslavl, and other Russian cities, where seafood from Crimea has already been successfully sold.

Valeriy Straholis, CEO of NC Bay company, which specializes in mariculture, told The Russian Newspaper that seafood from Crimea is popular throughout Russia due to its taste. Unique features of the Black Sea’s waters give oysters and mussels raised there a special taste, which is in high demand from restaurants.

“We even ship our seafood to some distant regions by plane in order to be able to keep the seafood fresh,” he said.

In 2019, Ryumshin said, total aquaculture output in Crimea was 2,628 MT, of which 1,424 MT were oysters and mussels. That’s a substantial increase from 2014, when total oyster and mussel production amounted to just a few metric tons.

The export ambitions of the local farmers, for now, look quite reasonable. There are 15 companies on the peninsula involved in farming oysters and mussels, and five investment projects in the works. Straholis noted that he wants to get his business scaled up from the current output of 50 MT of mussels and 70,000 oysters a year to 1,000 MT of mussels and 10 to 20 million oysters. 

Another project implemented by Azov Don Osetrovaya Kompanya envisages an  annual production of 300 MT of mussels and 1.5 to 5.5 million oysters within a few years.  

Photo courtesy of Peter Hermes Furian/Shutterstock 

Reporting from Saint Petersburg, Russia

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