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Russia Aims to Boost Fish and Seafood Exports to China Amidst Japanese Imports Ban

Russia seeks to capitalize on China's ban on Japanese seafood following Fukushima water release.

In the aftermath of China’s prohibition on Japanese seafood imports due to concerns about radioactive water discharge from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant, Russia is strategically positioning itself to expand its exports of aquatic products to China. A significant player in seafood trade, Russia boasts 894 companies authorized to export marine goods to China, according to Rosselkhoznadzor, the Russian food safety watchdog.

Rosselkhoznadzor announced on Friday its intention to augment the number of certified Russian exporters. The statement expressed optimism about the Chinese market’s potential for Russian seafood. “We hope to increase the number of certified Russian companies and ships, the volume of products and its range,” the statement affirmed.

To facilitate this endeavor, Rosselkhoznadzor intends to sustain a dialogue with China concerning seafood safety and finalize negotiations on regulations for the supply of Russian marine products to China. The move follows China’s recent comprehensive ban on Japanese food imports, prompted by apprehensions regarding radioactive contamination linked to the discharged water.

From January to August, China stood as the primary destination for over half of Russia’s aquatic product exports, including pollock, herring, flounder, sardine, cod, and crab, although specific figures were not provided. Russia’s fisheries agency reported that the country dispatched 2.3 million metric tons of marine products, valued at approximately $6.1 billion, last year. Among the key importers were China, South Korea, and Japan.

Japan dismissed criticism from both Russia and China, asserting that scientific evidence supported the safety of the treated water, with pollution levels expected to fall below World Health Organization standards for drinking water. Despite this, Rosselkhoznadzor heightened scrutiny of Japanese seafood imports, even though their quantities are minimal.

Furthermore, Rosselkhoznadzor pointed to the directional currents prevailing in the Russian Far East, the region responsible for around 70% of Russia’s seafood catch. It argued that these currents would naturally prevent contamination of marine products captured by Russian vessels. In addition, the regulator bolstered radiological monitoring of seafood caught in waters adjacent to Fukushima. The Pacific office of Rosselkhoznadzor revealed plans to test selected samples for radiation levels.

As Russia positions itself to capitalize on China’s seafood import gap left by the Japanese ban, diplomatic dialogues and stringent safety measures will play a pivotal role in determining the success of this endeavor.

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