Russians cut king crab quota 69%

Kyodo

The Russian Federal Fisheries Agency has cut its 2010 king crab catch quota in the Far East by 69 percent to 1,143 tons, or one-fifth of the 2007 level, indicating a further drop in exports to Japan.

The reduction is aimed at conserving resources amid rampant poaching, an agency spokesperson said Thursday.

The spokesperson also said poached king crabs might have been exported to Japan and South Korea.

King crab, or “taraba-gani,” is a winter favorite in Japan, but concerns about overfishing have been rising in line with their declining sizes.

Although Japanese trade data indicate king crab imports from Russia plunged 35.6 percent from a year ago to 4,395 tons in the first 10 months of 2009, the 10-month figure is well above this year’s catch quota of 3,703 tons in the Russian Far East.

Russia implemented a 40 percent cut in the king crab catch quota for the area two years ago, while allowing research organizations to catch such crabs effectively for commercial purposes under a separate quota. The loophole was closed this year.