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Moscow crab ban puts Murmansk in pinch

Bureaucrats in Moscow are challenging the king crab industry in Murmansk.

The king crab industry in the Kola Peninsula despairs as federal authorities ban crab fishing in coastal waters.

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According to the Russian Ministry of Agriculture, the king crab stocks along the Kola Peninsula need protective measures following excessive catch of young and female crab. The ministry this year consequently introduced a catch ban on the animal in all coastal waters surrounding the northwest Russian region.

The ban has given the regional crab fishing industry a serious headache. The catch vessels remain docked and the 2013 quota of 253 tons is being left untouched.

Murmansk Governor Marina Kovtun is now pushing on federal authorities to make amendments in quota regulations. According to the governor, the crab fishing industry hit by the ban should be allowed to take its quotas further out at sea. Alternatively, that the ban should only apply to restricted parts of the Kola coast, she argues, a press release from the regional administration reads.

King crab has become a much-wanted commercial product since it was introduced to the Barents Sea by Russian researchers in the 1960s. The crab stocks have multiplied explosively and consequently created the basis for a powerful king crab industry.

It is estimated that there today are about 1,5 million adult male crabs in the Russian part of the Barents Sea and another 500,000 on the Norwegian side.