Nfld. & Labrador

Fishing for China: How Newfoundland crab travels a long way to land on Asian plates

In the world of seafood exporting, you never know what may end up where - Newfoundland crab processed at a plant in China goes straight to the sushi restaurants of Tokyo.
Adam Walsh reports on how crab caught off Newfoundland heads quickly to Asian markets 3:07

In the international world of seafood exporting, you never know what may end up where.

Seafood from Newfoundland and Labrador, for example, regularly ends up in cities like Tokyo, Seoul and Shanghai.

Before reaching its final destination, there can be other stops along the way.

In November, I had the opportunity to take a tour at one such stop.

It was in a crab plant in Yantai, China. Crab processed at the plant was headed straight for the sushi restaurants of Tokyo ... and also for pizza toppings. 

Yantai is a fishing port city situated on the Yellow Sea. Its population in 2010 was around 7 million people. 

The video above shows what I saw. Take a look at the following photos to learn how crab got locally is handled when it arrives on the other side of the world. 

At this plant in Yantai, China, crab comes from Newfoundland, Lameque, New Brunswick and Gaspesie, Quebec. (Adam Walsh/CBC)

Every little fleck of shell must be removed from the crab. In the darkroom with a black light, workers pluck the tiniest of bits off the crab with tweezers. (Adam Walsh/CBC)

Darrell Roche is vice-president of sales and procurement at Whitecap International Seafood Exporters, which does seafood marketing for producers in markets all over the world. (Adam Walsh/CBC)

See this pack of crab meat? These bits of shoulder and leg used to be thrown out because they were considered too difficult to get at. The Yantai plant has developed techniques to get the meat out and package it. Packs like this one end up as pizza toppings in Japan. (Adam Walsh/CBC)
A plant worker breaks apart frozen crab. About 80 per cent of this product will sell in Japan, while the other 20 per cent will go to Europe and the U.S. (Adam Walsh/CBC)
At this plant in Yantai, young innovative workers move quickly to get every little bit of crab out of the shell. (Adam Walsh/CBC)
According to Roche, the processes used in the Yantai plant keep crab on the menu in Japan when other parts of the crab are too expensive. By keeping crab on the menu, Roche says harvesters and Canadian processors are able to get the maximum profit. He says through creativity, they're able to keep that product turning. (Adam Walsh/CBC)
A worker holds up sushi-grade crab meat headed for 100-yen ($1) sushi restaurants in Tokyo. They extract the claw and arm meat and they butterfly it. Then they vacuum-pack it before placing it right on top of a ball of rice. (Adam Walsh/CBC)
A group of seafood exporters and importers on a tour of the facility. (Adam Walsh/CBC)
There is strict quality control at this plant in Yantai. Every step of processing is monitored. The methods used here ensure no crab meat is wasted. (Adam Walsh/CBC)
Crab meat ready to be vacuum packed and sent to Japan. (Adam Walsh/CBC)

Fishing for China was made possible thanks to a fellowship from the Asia Pacific Foundation with support from Cathay Pacific. 

About the Author

Adam Walsh

CBC News

Adam Walsh is a CBC journalist. He works primarily for the St. John's Morning Show, and contributes to television and digital programming.