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"Quotas for catch are not a panacea ..."

On the changes in the mechanisms for the issuance and operation of quotas for the harvest of bioresources, as well as on the principles of modernization of the Russian shipbuilding industry

A meeting of the State Council on the problems of the fishing industry is scheduled for October this year in Moscow. Representatives of one of the most important areas of the food industry, ensuring the country's food security, will discuss the urgent changes to the Federal Law “On Fisheries” and other legislative acts related to this type of activity.

In fact, we are talking about building new relations between the state and the fish business in terms of the distribution of fishing quotas so that the riches of the seas go first of all to the Russian market, and then for export (and, preferably, not in the form of raw materials, but in the form of products with a high degree of processing and added value).

"Quotas for catch are not a panacea ..."

Herman Zverev

President of the Alaska Pollack Association
Another major task of the state is to stimulate the fishing business to renew the fleet by purchasing new fishing vessels from a domestic manufacturer in order to support Russian shipbuilding. Both tasks can be solved, the Government believes, in one way - to encourage large and long-term quotas ("state support quotas") for catching those market players who can actually conduct effective fishing and are ready to direct the fruits of it towards the interests of the domestic consumer and producer.

“East Russia” tried to find out how consonant these wishes of Rosrybolovstvo officials are with the representatives of the fishing industry in an interview with German Zverev, president of the Association of Pollock Catchers (ADM), the largest sectoral non-profit organization in the Far East.

- German Stanislavovich, do you think the proposal of the Federal Agency for Fishery on the introduction of "state support quotas" will stimulate fishing companies to renew their fleet at the expense of new Russian vessels?

- Quotas for catching aquatic biological resources are just one of the ways a business can access the initial production resource. In the all-Russian catch, quotas regulate only half of the total catch. The other half is provided by other instruments (the agreement on the fishing area, the "Olympic system" and the catch in the waters of foreign countries). Therefore, it is illogical, ineffective and unfair to use as a draft force only those enterprises that are endowed with quotas, and to leave aside the enterprises that catch aquatic biological resources on other legal grounds.

In general, the system of distribution of quotas, created only for the purpose of loading production capacities and cut off from natural fluctuations in reserves, will inevitably lead to the undermining of natural reserves and a shortage of raw materials. Like any other technocratic utopia, it ultimately ends in scarcity and bureaucrats distributing scarce resources.

Therefore, instead of government support quotas, a different approach is needed, and the Alaska Pollock Catchers' Association proposed this approach at the International Fishermen Congress. Our proposals are to reformat the current tax benefit on payment of fees for the use of aquatic biological resources into an indicative investment obligation; development of a system of exchange and auction trading in products from aquatic biological resources; legislative "rejection" of rentier companies; customs amnesty for new or modernized fishing vessels. This will provide a guaranteed volume of investments in the amount of 14-15 billion rubles a year (for comparison - now this figure is about 10 billion rubles).

- Some experts consider the mechanism of "state support quotas" to be incompetent in the current economic realities - such as, for example: the habit of fishermen to conduct profitable fishing on used vessels, possible problems of creating an effective fishing shipbuilding in connection with the economic crisis ...

“The habit of fishing profitably on used boats” that you are talking about is a generic feature of all fishing powers without exception. The average age of fishing vessels in the world is now 27,5 years, the average age of fishing vessels in Russia is about 28 years.

- One of the possible innovations in the Law "On Fisheries" is the assignment of quotas to a certain vessel for 25 years. What do you think - is it too long?

- The payback period for investment projects in the priority development areas and the free port of Vladivostok is 70 years. And I have not heard any objections or refutations about this. The term for fixing the quota for the catch of aquatic biological resources is the basic economic and legal principle, which is the basis for the development of a large and heterogeneous industry. 25 years does not exceed a reasonable level of planning and creates real confidence for long projects.

- Sakhalin fish auction - a joint project of Sberbank and the government of the Sakhalin region has begun its work. The volume of trading on the electronic platform of Sberbank-AST on September 25 amounted to only 7 million rubles. Don't you think this figure is too insignificant? Why not immediately expand the geography of such an auction?

- These questions should be addressed to the organizers of the project. Fisheries - participants only.

- The fish cluster in the Far East, obviously, presupposes the concentration of production and logistics capacities in a certain limited space. Is it rational to strive for this state of affairs? Perhaps it is wiser to modernize the PKK, already geographically and historically established in the region?

- The fish cluster in the Far East already exists. These are dozens of fish processing enterprises, these are port facilities. Let me remind you that "cluster" means "bundle" in translation. In other words, an interweaving of entrepreneurial projects. It can be both geographically localized and develop in several regions.
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