Seafood exports from Belarus to Russia jumped by 15 times in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period of 2016, reaching a record high of 2,300 metric tons and €3.9 million ($4.4 million) in value, according to Belarusian statistics service Belstat.
Supplies from Belarus to Russia in the first three months were so high, in fact, that they were nearly equal to the volumes delivered in the whole of last year.
The country mainly supplies frozen fish to the Russia market.
In the first quarter, mackerel exports accounted for 1,200 metric tons, or €2.2 million ($ 2.5 million) in value, while this time last year there was no mackerel shipped from Belarus.
Herring exports jumped 10 times, reaching 1,000 metric tons, worth €1.5 million ($1.7 million).
Salmon supplies saw five-fold increase and reached 91 metric tons, worth an estimated €104,400 ($117,400).
Russian seafood imports from Belarus increased mainly due to a rise of imports from third-party countries such as the European Union, Norway and Iceland.
Belarussian seafood imports from Iceland grew by 33 percent in the first quarter, while imports from Norway increased 13 percent.
Finnish seafood supplies to Belarus climbed 74 percent, while supplies from Germany rose 64 percent. Imports from The Netherlands grew 21 percent and from Denmark by 15 percent.
According to Alexey Aronov, executive director at Fish Alliance, an umbrella association for Russian fish processing and trading companies, the rise is entirely due to increased supplies of re-exported fish, mainly from countries banned from directly selling to the Russian market.
“Belarussian supplies of frozen fish to Russia are purely a re-exports." Aronov told IntraFish. The volume of these supplies, however, is so insignificant, that it doesn’t have any serious influence on the Russian market or Russian producers, he said.
It is practically impossible to stop the re-export of banned seafood supplies to the Russian market, according to Russia’s veterinary authority Rosselkhoznadzor.
“Supplies of Belarussian fish products to the Russian market are absolutely legal if the fish is processed there," Yulia Melano, spokesperson for Rosselkhoznadzor, told IntraFish.
“And it is just enough to repackage fish in order to treat it as processed. That is what the Belarussian suppliers usually do."