Russian veterinary authorities ask Belarus to tighten up supply of Norwegian salmon and trout

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Norway posts increase in salmon and trout exports to Belarus – 97 per-cent of which is reported to Russia. However, Russian authorities are clamping down, mulling a potential ban.

In a letter to Belarusian veterinary authorities, Rosselkhoznadzor (Russia’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance) has expressed concern about the quality of Norwegian exported salmon and trout.

Rosselkhoznadzor sent a letter to the Department of Veterinary and Food Supervision in the Ministry of Agriculture and Food in Belarus outlining that residues of banned and harmful substances have been repeatedly detected in fish products made from Norwegian raw materials forwarded to Russia.

Banned substances
By the detection of banned substances in Norwegian raw materials, Rosselkhoznadzor informed the Norwegian Food Safety Authority in late October of the need to conduct an inspection of Norwegian salmon and trout farms.

But a recent report from the Norwegian Seafood Council showed that Belarus had increased imports of fresh trout by more than 44 per cent, compared with last year. Last year Belarus had imported 7,692 tonnes, while the figure for the year to date is 11,068 tonnes.

Brest, Belarus-based processor Santa Bremor. PHOTO: Santa Bremor

Belarus is already one of the world’s top three leading importers of trout from Norway. The landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia to the northeast, has been called “Europe’s last dictatorship” in the past due to the long rule of President Alexander Lukashenko who has been in office since 1994.

Steady and gradual increase
Chief analyst at the Norwegian Seafood Council, Frank Isaksen, told SalmonBusiness there had been a steady and gradual increase in the export volume of fresh trout to Belarus in recent months.

“This may be related to more available trout in the market, and prices have fallen somewhat over the period. We are not aware of any other specific reasons for this increased export,” said Isaksen to SalmonBusiness.

97 per-cent
Could it be that Belarus has a common customs agreement with Russia, and that this fish is to a significant extent shipped from Belarus to Russia?

“It is true that Belarus is in customs union with Russia through the Eurasian Economic Union. Available trade statistics show that a large proportion of the fish imported to Belarus is re-exposed to Russia, but then in processed form. Belarus has a significant processing industry and re-exposes about 80 percent of the seafood imported, measured in value. 97 percent of seafood exports go to Russia,” Isaksen told SalmonBusiness.

Rosselkhoznadzor’s letter appealed to the Belarusian side with a request to ensure the prevention of supplies to Russia of fish products produced from Norwegian raw materials

There is currently no fish trade between Norway and Russia after the Kremlin imposed an import ban on a wide range of food from the West in August 2014.

“It should be noted that from 1 January to 15 November this year, more than 10.2 thousand tonnes of aquaculture products were imported from Norway to Belarus. According to information from the Belarus State Service, only 17 research samples were taken for the entire specified volume. At the same time, 93 per cent (9.5 thousand tonnes) of 10.2 thousand tonnes of fish products were sent to Russia via Belarus from Norway,” the letter further stated.

Not allowed to be delivered
“Taking into account the lack of agreement on inspection by the Mattelsynet, as well as the inadequate surveillance studies of Norwegian fishery raw materials carried out by the Belarusian public service, Rosselkhoznadzor asks the Belarusian side to ensure that fish products made from Norwegian raw materials are not allowed to be delivered to Russia,” added Rosselkhoznadzor.