EU imports of Russian fish rise by nearly 20pc despite Ukraine war

Vladimir Putin fishing - ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/AFP
Vladimir Putin fishing - ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/AFP

Russian exports of fish to the European Union have soared by a fifth since Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, according to new trade data.

Last year, deliveries of fish increased by 18.7 per cent to 198,800 metric tons, according to the Russian Fishery Industry Association, as reported by the Moscow Times website.

The value of fish exports rose by 57.6 per cent to almost €1 billion (£878 million), Varpe reported, with the Netherlands, Poland and Germany the biggest buyers.

Russia accounted for 4.5 per cent of the EU’s 4.4 million tons of fish and seafood imports in 2022.

German Zverev, president of Varpe, said the uptick in exports was likely down to wholesalers and processors increasing their stocks in anticipation of possible sanctions on the Russian fish industry.

White fish from Russia unsanctioned

The Telegraph last year reported that Britain was preparing to target Russian seafood exports with sanctions in response to Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

The report prompted fears that a third of fish and chip shops in the UK could be forced to close because of shortages of haddock and other white fish from Russia and sunflower oil from Ukraine – half of which was imported from the now war-torn nation before a Moscow-led blockade in the Black Sea.

Imports of white fish from Russia have been left unsanctioned, with food often ring-fenced from such measures, but Russian caviar has been sanctioned by both the EU and UK.

While fish imports rose, the EU’s trade with Russia has been severely impacted by the sanctions slapped on Moscow over the invasion.

Both exports and imports dropped considerably below the levels prior to the attack, according to data released by Eurostat, the EU’s data agency.

The bloc’s trade deficit with Russia peaked at €18.2 billion in March 2022 before slumping to €6 billion at the end of last year.

The value of imports from Russia fell by 53 per cent from €21.8 billion to €10.3 billion by December 2022.