Crab Fishing Ban Proposed in Russia's Far East
A Russian fisheries council has proposed a ban on crab fishing in the country's Far East, Interfax News Agency reported yesterday.
"Now any crab in the Japanese market will be illegal, and it will be simply impossible for poachers to conceal their share of the catch from the public," said Irshat Shaikhov, fisheries minister of Russia's Kamchatka territory.
The Russian Far Eastern Research and Fishing Council is expected to submit its recommendation to the federal government by late March.
U.S. king crab imports from Russia topped 62 million pounds last year, up 6 percent from 2006. Russia represented more than 90 percent of total U.S. king crab imports in 2007, a significant portion of which was allegedly caught illegally in the Far East.
Russian fisheries authorities have been cracking down on illegal crab fishing since last September when Russian President Vladimir Putin formed the Committee for Fisheries, part of a larger effort to centralize, and thus strengthen, regulation of the countryâ??s overexploited natural resources.
Andrei Krainy, the committee's head, threatened to confiscate the quotas and vessels of fishing companies suspected of poaching. Russia's Border Guard Service launched a two-and-a-half-month operation dubbed "Crab 2007" to halt illegal crab fishing in the Far East.
Also last September, Arkadi Gontmakher, CEO of Global Fishing in Bellevue, Wash., one of the largest U.S. king crab importers, was arrested in Moscow on charges of money laundering and exporting poached crabs.
Russian fishermen harvest king crab in the Bering Sea and Sea of Okhotsk in the Far East, as well as in the Barents Sea, splitting the quota with Norwegian fishermen.