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Two sides of one salmon

Sakhalin fishermen protested the impending ban on drift-net fishing in Russia

Two sides of one salmon

A bill on a complete ban on drifter fishing has been submitted to the State Duma of the country. Amendments to the law "On fishing and conservation of aquatic biological resources" were introduced by Speaker of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko. If they are adopted, fishing for Pacific salmon in the exclusive economic zone, internal sea waters and the territorial sea of ​​the Russian Federation will be banned.

What is drift gear? This is the catch of fish by fishing vessels using smooth or, as they are often called, drift nets, which have the property of retaining fish that have touched them. Trying to pass through the net, the fish pulls the net mesh onto themselves to the fins, so it cannot move forward. When she tries to step back, she cannot take off her mesh. The cycle of the drift-fishing vessel consists of the following processes: making out nets, drifting, that is, the main process during which fish get tangled, sampling nets, freeing them from catch.

“The need to introduce by the bill a ban on the use of pelagic or smooth (drifter) nets on spawning migration routes is due to the fact that this leads to the inevitable catching of mixed populations of different salmon species, including the spawning stock, which can lead to the complete devastation of a specific spawning ground and, accordingly to stop fishing. In addition, drifter fishery intercepts a significant part of salmon from Russian coastal enterprises, whose activities are based on fishing, and also directly damages the biological diversity of the marine ecosystem as a result of the death of seabirds and mammals, ”says the explanatory note to the bill. The drafters of the amendments remind that after the adoption of the UN General Assembly Resolution in 1991, drift-net fishing was prohibited outside the 200-mile zone of Russia, the USA, Canada, Japan and the Republic of Korea.

The topic of the ban on drifter fishing has exposed contradictions between the two Far Eastern regions - Kamchatka Krai and Sakhalin. Kamchatka fishermen do not hide the fact that they have been systematically lobbying for the introduction of this ban since 2008. Sakhalin residents responded with accusations of an unscrupulous game: allegedly supporters of the controversial bill are trying to deprive competitors of the opportunity to catch especially valuable salmon - sockeye salmon and chinook salmon, which are in great demand both on the domestic and foreign markets. Coastal fishing for this fish is carried out in Kamchatka. But sockeye salmon is also the main target of those who carry out drift-net fishery for Pacific salmon in the sea. There is an opinion that their Kamchatka fishermen, accustomed to consider this red fish "theirs", are often perceived almost as poachers, intercepting legal prey. In this logic, the emergence of the bill, which should put an end to the drift-net fishery for salmon, becomes another episode of the competition for a valuable resource.

There is one more "truth": the prohibition of drifter fishing will deprive Sakhalin fishermen of work, only about 500 people. Russian Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov, while on a business trip to Sakhalin last week, admitted that the introduction of the ban is practically a done deal. But in this case, the question arises of compensation for damage to companies conducting drifter fishing.

“The fishermen obtained quotas for resources for drifter fishing legally at auctions in 2010,” said Andrei Kovalenko, Ombudsman for the Protection of the Rights of Entrepreneurs in the Sakhalin Region. “They signed contracts with the state that guarantee them work for ten years. And now, in the middle of this period, they are being told that their fishery may be curtailed. This sets a dangerous precedent. "

"Not a single conscientious fisherman should suffer," Nikolai Fedorov said his position. - Has he received government guarantees until 2020? This means that the state must keep its obligations. And to achieve this is our common joint task. "

However, at the moment, the draft law banning the drift-net fishing has been sent for public examination to the regions of Russia. Kamchatka approved it one of the first: the February 17 draft law was unanimously supported by the Presidium of the Legislative Assembly of the Kamchatka Territory, Vice-Speaker of the Deputy Corps Roman Granatov said.

“It was the Kamchatka deputies who were the first to sound the alarm in 2008 when the prospect arose of fixing quotas for drifter companies for 10 years. Then, in a few days, more than 20 thousand signatures were collected against the drift-net fishing, - said Roman Granatov. - After all, what is the Japanese and domestic drifter fishery? This is when entire coasts are blocked by smooth nets that do not let anything alive. And the fish just don't come to spawn. The young are dying. Without the possibility of reproduction, the population of the world's only most valuable wild Kamchatka salmon is under threat of destruction. Currently, 16 Russian and 35 Japanese drifter traps set up a continuous 1600 kilometers of nets, preventing fish from spawning. What is the consequence? We all remember the consequences of the drifter catastrophe that broke out in the fifties of the 20th century. Then the Japanese drifter traps caused irreparable damage to the economy and the marine environment of the Far East, literally scooping up fish on the approaches to Kamchatka. On the peninsula, 30 fishing collective farms went bankrupt, 25 ultra-modern fish canning factories, 36 fish processing coastal bases, 23 fish processing plants and 27 villages were closed. It took more than 25 years to restore the ecosystem and commercial volumes of salmon ”.

Today Kamchatka is the leader in terms of salmon harvest. A quarter of all Russian catches are caught here, and almost 100% of valuable fish species are reproduced here - chinook salmon and sockeye salmon. In recent years, dozens of modern fish processing plants have been built in the region, more than 13 billion rubles have been invested.

“We are for a complete ban on drift-net fishing and support the bill. All these years we have been increasing the volume of fish processing onshore, moving away from the sale of raw raw materials at sea. Today, 70% of the fish caught by our ships off the coast of Kamchatka comes ashore. High-tech factories are being built on the coast of the region, producing deeply processed products. In recent years, more than fifteen of them have been built. This fish ends up on the tables of Russians. And this is employment of the population, an increase in the standard of living in small coastal villages, this allows the population to be consolidated in remote areas, - said the Deputy Prime Minister - Minister of Fisheries of the Kamchatka Territory Vladimir Galitsyn. - Drift-netting is a profitable trade. There is a minimum of costs - the caught fish is handed over almost in full abroad. About 80% of the drifter sockeye go to Japan, even before reaching the Russian coast. We are in favor of giving work to Russian coastal enterprises. Almost all the fish that are caught by drifter vessels are reproduced in Kamchatka. The state spends enormous amounts of money on the work of the fish protection authorities, on the protection of spawning grounds, on the reproduction of salmon at fish hatcheries. The craft must be gentle and reasonable. And if we continue to block the approaches of fish to Kamchatka with drifters, then the work of many enterprises on the Kamchatka coast, like the villages themselves, can be closed. And the account here is no longer for hundreds, but for thousands. "

Sakhalin has something to answer. There, several companies are engaged in drift-net fishing of salmon, in which about 500 people work. They have their own weighty arguments in defense of this method of fishing. The catches of Pacific salmon on Sakhalin have been steadily growing in recent years. A dozen years ago in the Sakhalin region was considered a great success, if Putina brought 50 thousand tons of red fish. Today the catch of about 120 thousand tons is considered normal. According to Sakhalin fishermen, the salmon population is at the peak of the population, and there is no fatal damage to speak of. The share of drift-net fishing in the best years accounts for only 4-5 percent of the total catch of Pacific salmon in the exclusive economic zone of Russia. Due to the existing facilities with the help of drifters, it is impossible to cause fatal damage to the stocks of red fish, said Sergey Karepkin, Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Sakhalin Region, who oversees the fishing industry in the region.

“Domestic industry science does not hide that it does not have objective data that drifter fishing causes any significant damage to the salmon population,” said Sergei Karepkin. - All the frightening stories about drifter nets, supposedly destroying all living things, are based solely on information from foreign sources received from Western environmental organizations, which, as you know, are far from always objective. Moreover, drifter fishing is necessary. Today there are no other effective ways to determine the number of salmon in the sea, to make an accurate forecast of catches in the coming fishing season. It is for this purpose that scientists regularly take part in expeditions using drift nets, which are carried out by our Sakhalin fishermen. Without these forecasts, which are given by science, the fishermen themselves, who carry out coastal fishing, will not be able to plan their activities normally ”.

As an illustration, Sergey Karepkin cited a scientific assessment of drifter fishing, published in 2009 by Oleg Gritsenko, Doctor of Science, head of the All-Russian Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography. According to him, the damage to the ecosystem is no higher than the damage from any other fishing method, if drifter fishing is conducted in accordance with the current fishing rules. “The scientist even stressed that the creation of a negative perception of drifter fishing is primarily due to considerations of competition,” concluded Sergei Karepkin, hinting at the supporters of the bill with interests in the fishing industry of Kamchatka.

“Those who participate in the drift-net fishery know that almost 70-80% of the seized fish are thrown away,” the Kamchatka fishermen retort. “Only one currency-intensive sockeye salmon remains in the catch. Pink salmon, chum salmon and fish spoiled by drift nets are thrown overboard. There are statistics on the basis of which an elementary analysis can be made: if in general approaches fish on the coast of pink salmon occupies about 80% of the total salmon, then on drifter ships it turns out that more than 70% of the salmon caught is sockeye salmon. The figures themselves speak of the opposite - the drifter has a detrimental effect, so most fishermen oppose this barbaric trade, ”the chairman of the fishing Kolkhoz named after Lenin Sergei Tarusov.

The Lenin collective farm is one of the oldest and largest fishing enterprises in Kamchatka. The company, which employs 2 thousands of fishermen, delivers the bulk of the fish to the shore, and after processing supplies products to the Russian market.

“Drifter sockeye salmon - is almost 100% exported to Japan. The Russians don't even see it. They don't know what a sockeye salmon is, but they know what a pink salmon is, '' said Sergei Tarusov. “We are confident that if the drifter is banned, salmon approaches will increase significantly. The coast will start working normally, people will have stability. Our colleagues from Sakhalin recall that 500 Sakhalin fishermen, who work on drifters for a month and a half a year, will be left without work. They do not think that 20 thousand Kamchatka fishermen will be left without work as a result of drift-net fishing. People will move from drifters to other ships tomorrow, but people live in coastal villages, they have nowhere to go. The shore cannot be left without fish, it is simply criminal. "

As another argument to the prohibition of drift-net fishing, Kamchatka fishermen refer to the figure: according to expert estimates, as a result of drift-net fishing, Russia annually loses more than 8 billion rubles in revenues, although all the fish destroyed and unchecked sockeye salmon could come ashore and work for the economy Coastal regions. As an example, the 2014 year is shown, when it was possible to achieve a drift-net reduction of just one month. As a result, much more salmon came to the eastern coast of Kamchatka to start fishing than in previous years.

While the Far Eastern territories are evaluating the bill, the Federal Agency for Fishery has begun a detailed study of the problems of drifter fishing. At the end of January, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture of the country, the head of the Federal Agency for Fisheries Ilya Shestakov held an interdepartmental meeting on issues related to the drift-net fishery of Pacific salmon in the exclusive economic zone of Russia by domestic and foreign users. As a result, the “Pacific Research Fisheries Center was instructed to provide a comprehensive analysis of the impact of drifter fishing for Pacific salmon on the state of aquatic biological resources in the Russian EEZ. At the same time, the Rosrybolovstvo administration should analyze the economic effect of the proposed measures for the fishery complex of the Far East, as well as the legal aspects of the issue. The materials are being prepared now, ”the Federal Agency for Fishery said.

It is already obvious that a heated debate will unfold around the bill. It is possible that his editorial staff will be corrected. The main task of the legislator in such conditions is to abstract from the interests of a specific fishing lobby and be guided only by the interests of the country's fisheries sector and by considerations of Russia's food security.

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