Overview of Russia's seafood exports in first half of 2008. Part 1.

August 13, 2008 16:13

In the first half of 2008 the exports from the Russian Far East have been dominated by pollock and pollock roes, salmon products, live and frozen crabs, flatfish, etc, according to the overview prepared by analysts of http://www.fishnet-russia.com/ (https://www.fishnet.ru/) based on Japanese and Russian sources.

In June 2008 the Russian Far East fishing fleets concentrated on salmon operations, though the most abundant runs of sockeye, chum and pink salmons to the inshore areas had not been observed yet and salmons were harvested only by those companies having quotas for marine operations and those fishermen who had capture quotas in the eastern coast of Kamchatka.

(Note: for an account of salmon fishery in July and outlook for August please turn to stories Overview of fisheries in the seas of the Russian Far East in July 2008 and Outlook for fisheries (excluding salmon) in the Russian Far East in August 2008 in the August issue of the Russian Fish Report.)

However, already from the very start of July 2008 the growth rates of sockeye runs to the west coast of Kamchatka were increasing and that enabled the local fishermen to start freezing salmon for export markets and domestic market of Russia. By the end of July 2008 the runs of pink salmon grew as active as sockeye runs. Evidently, successful progressing of salmon fishery in the West Kamchatka has given grounds for the federal authorities to assure the fishermen that the total harvest of all the Pacific salmon species during the current season 2008 will not be smaller than 300,000-310,000 metric tons even despite reduced pink salmon quotas.

Sustaining salmon catches at the level as high as the above mentioned can build up a stable basis to boost shipments of salmon products, including roe, both for the domestic market and for export. Moreover, poorer salmon fishery in Alaska as compared to forecasts also weakens competition on the export markets.

Frozen salmon

As per end of June Russia's export of frozen salmon to Japan and China was not very brisk and comparably low in the volume terms. Nevertheless, increased export in the first half of the year can be indicative for a total rise of Russia's frozen salmon export to Japan and China during the salmon season 2008. However, as for salmon roe shipments, a growth of shipments is hardly likely as the current prices for the product on the domestic market are more competitive as compared to prices on the export markets, in Japan for example.

In June 2008, when the fishermen started to export new catches, mostly marine, the Japanese import of Russian frozen sockeye amounted to ca.1200 tonnes, 20% up on 2007. The total import volume through the first half of the year has also displayed a strong growth by 23% to 3700 tonnes. A decrease has been reported only for the average import prices, which were less than 650 Yen per kilo in June 2008 versus nearly 700 Yen per kilo in 2007. The average prices for the first six months of the year amounted to ca.540 Yen per kilo, 4% down on 2007. Though, taking into account stronger exchange rate of the Japanese yen to the US dollar as compared to January-June 2007, the average prices in USD did not decrease and remained the same level.

The Chinese import of Pacific salmon (pinks and chums) in June was not very active and amounted to only ca.400 tonnes versus more than 500 tonnes in 2007, but the total volume of the Chinese import in January-June 2008 exceeded 3000 tonnes, 10% up on 2007, which should have satisfied the Russian producers if the average prices of the Chinese import were not as low as 1.90 USD per kilo, 20% down on 2.40 USD per kilo in the first half of 2007. In June 2008 the prices were much higher at 2.10 USD per kilo, but that was still 0.50 USD down on the respective average price recorded in the same month last year. Thus, by the start of the second half of 2008 the situation with prices for the Russian salmon exported to China was not very favourable for the development of the trade relations between the two nations.

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