« The Cost of Nuclear | Main | Money Making »

June 21, 2006

Black Market Cod

So there’s a black market in cod, Russian trawlers deliberately over-fishing and then landing the catch in the UK. Or so it is claimed. The UK reaction?

Naval officials in Norway accuse the British Government of failing to prevent this multimillion-pound money-laundering racket. Ben Bradshaw, the Fisheries Minister, is being blamed for talking tough on illegal fishing on the world stage but refusing to deal with the problem at home. Norway is demanding that Britain gives full data of all landings of cod and other fish from Russian trawlers or other internationally registered vessels. If it has the data it can work out the extent of the over-fishing by the criminal gangs.

However, the Government is refusing to hand over the information and insists that it will only pass the data back to Russia for its own internal checks.

You what? Asking the Russian State to police such activities is ludicrous. You think they’re not up to the elbows in the trade themselves? Does no one in Government actually understand how business works there? You need a roof, a "krisha", to do anything. Such a roof is, as often as not, the Ministry supposedly policing the system. Sending the stats only back to Russia will have one effect: the Ministry will be able to check that it’s getting the correct rake off from the illegal fishing.

Or are we so enamoured of The State that we simply won’t believe that foreigners could do that?   

June 21, 2006 in Food and Drink | Permalink


Most government agencies are breathtakingly naive about Russia.

A Russian friend of mine tried to get a visa to Australia, and the Aussie embassy initially refused it to her because she did not have proof of her property in Russia. They asked her to come back with a Russian lawyer's letter confirming that she owned the property. They obviously didn't realise that for a $100 you can get a lawyer to write a letter confirming you own the Winter Palace.

My girlfriend also had a similar request from the UAE authorities, to produce proof of something or other by way of a lawyer's letter from Russia. A few roubles later, and the letter is on its way, with the lawyer showing no interest in its contents whatsoever.

Posted by: Tim Newman | Jun 21, 2006 8:51:52 AM

I'm surprised Ben "Dover" Bradshaw didn't simply blame some CFP by law as reason for not being able to hand over the data.

Still, since fishery management is so bloody inept under that benighted protocol, aren't the Norgies being a little naive to expect that the numbers, even if provided, will give them any cue whatsoever as to how many cod have been vacuumed up by the Russkies?

Or is Ben scared that some little scam between Brits and Russians will be exposed to the embarassment of himself and the Dear Leader?


Posted by: The Remittance Man | Jun 21, 2006 10:55:24 AM

"talking tough on ... but refusing to deal with": His Master's Voice, then.

Posted by: dearieme | Jun 21, 2006 11:11:24 AM

Great post.

My law firm (www.harrismoure.com) has a Russian lawyer from Vladivostok (capital of Russian fishing) on staff and our lawyers have been doing Russian international fisheries work for many years. Your post is absolutely correct both in how the Russian fishery operates and on the almost deliberate effort by Western governments to competely ignore this reality. Here in the U.S. the Feds actually think that the person turned in to them by the Russian authorities for violating Russian fishing laws has been singled out by the Russian authorities on some basis other than politics. It's crazy.

Oh, and Tim, who commented on the $100 for a Russian lawyer's opinion, it is good to see that the price has not gone up at all for that in the last few years. I have been told by Korean lawyers that the courts in Korea are just about at the point that they will not accept Russian lawyer testimony on Russian law because they have no real way to sort fact from fiction.

Posted by: China Law Blog | Jun 26, 2006 8:04:13 PM