Exports of fish and seafood from Pacific Russia in March 2011 affected by disaster in Japan
This month can clearly be divided into 2 periods, "before" and "after" the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Everything was calm and smooth until March, 12, in accordance with typical pattern, without serious difference to February. Naturally, the major volume of export was pollock HG to Qingdao and Dalian, China. Price fairly stable, about $1,300 CFR China. Some Russian companies also arranged roe auctions.
Earthquake and tsunami
The earthquake and tsunami caused a natural pause in export to Japan. There were many cold storages and processing plants in the hit area. Most of them stored saury, mackerel, salmon (fish and roe). It is not clear even now what is the condition of the facilities, and it is impolite to ask the victims, but watching TV and looking at photos it is difficult to imagine that the facilities are OK.
All the roe auctions both in Seattle and Busan have been cancelled, and it is not clear when they are restarted. The cancellation was just a matter of politeness and respect to casualties as most buyers didn't suffer directly.
Everything is unclear with fishmeal supply to China. Some companies have already received registration refusal on formal grounds, the others have not received any answer as yet. Smugglers and traders are happy, fishermen are looking for new markets and opportunities.
Chinese AQCIQ demands "every exported lot to be researched by an officially appointed laboratory... Immediately before the lot is shipped a test should be done giving a conclusion that the product meets microbiological criteria..." In fact these words are a barrier for all legal export of Russian white fishmeal to China. The matter is that a sample can only be delivered to "an appointed laboratory" on the same tramper as all the lot. No other feasible way exists. If a transport ship is to stay in a Russian port waiting for laboratory research, the fishmeal cost would become too high. So, today to deliver fishmeal to China it's necessary either to transship it in Russia, or to forge documents in some way. It's difficult to imagine that neither Chinese, nor Russian experts didn't understand it preparing the regulations. It all reminds of the recent situation when CIQ didn't accept real health certificates, and asked importers to provide other, corresponding with a form cancelled years before. What for do Chinese authorities need every importer to be guilty? They may have their reasons, but more interesting is the question why Russian authorities didn't try to protect Russian exporters against obviously unfair and impracticable restrictions.
However, part of the product will be exported legally. China is by far the biggest but fortunately not the only customer. By the way, another product which cannot be supplied to China anymore is crude fishoil. It turned out to be bad for Chinese aquaculture (because it is not good for HUMAN consumption). Fortunately, Japanese aquaculture is not as choosy.