Stopping frozen fish processing in Dalian paralyzed Russian fish unloading

December 23, 2020 13:50

December 22 early morning was a shock for fish processing stakeholders in the city of Dalian, China.  The local government ordered to shut down 75 fish processing factories in Zhuanghe area and frozen cargo operations in ports.  Actually, the "new" port of Dayowan and two cold storages there were closed from December 15, reports

Russian fish unloading from trampers was completely stopped as well as all containers acceptance and loading.  As of the morning there were 3 ships under discharge in the port and 7 more were awaiting unloading at the anchorage.

Container shipment to Dalian from Busan has been suspended. Some lines return loaded containers to shippers.

From November until these restrictions, Dalian was the main "window" to China for Russian fish, since Qingdao stopped accepting frozen fish from transports early November, and all frozen products in containers are being Covid-19 tested and disinfected. At the same time, the processing speed is just 5 containers per day, and the queue has already exceeded 3000.

According to Chinese sources, the measures were caused by identification of 26 infected persons in the city of almost 7 million. The entire population and workers will be tested soon. However, the sources believe the reason is authorities desire to celebrate the Chinese New Year in a safe way.  As it will happen on February 12, 2021, the real lifting of the restrictions can be expected only at the very end of February, or even at the beginning of March.

Other Chinese ports do not accept Russian transport for fear of contamination. Nobody wants to be responsible for accepting the fish with a party card, or even freedom. Containers can be brought in, say, through Shanghai, but they will end up in the same queue in Qingdao. The Chinese authorities are not taking real steps to speed up the import of frozen fish.

The closure of Dalian has already started a domino effect. Due to the closure of some border checkpoints, a huge number of live crab and frozen fish tracks are queuing at the border, waiting for three weeks or more – add disinfection waiting time to it. The Chinese are afraid to buy any Russian product now. There is panic among traders and processors, no one yet understands what to do and what new restrictive measures are expected.

This poses the traditional question "What to do?" for Russian fishermen and Chinese processors. In January, the A-season of active pollock fishing in the Sea of Okhotsk begins. For comparison, 427 thousand tons of pollock were harvested by February 20, 2020, from which about 200 thousand tons of pollock HG were exported to China among other things. There is simply no free storage capacity to store such a volume if it is not delivered to China. It exists neither in Russia, nor in Korea, nor in other countries. You can slow down the fishery a little in January, while pollock roe is immature and yield is low. You can try to organize processing in other countries (Vietnam, Thailand), which is impossible without the participation of the Chinese. At the same time, any measures sharply increase fishing and processing cost. A wave of bankruptcies can be expected.

Happy Ox year to all of us!

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