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Quotas of state support - as an incentive for development

Head of the Federal Agency for Fisheries Ilya Shestakov, in an interview with IA "EastRussia" shared his opinion on the prospects for the development of the domestic fisheries complex

- Ilya Vasilyevich, participants in the All-Russian coordination meeting of heads of enterprises and associations of the fishing industry asked Vladimir Putin not to allow the introduction of new types of quotas that destroy the "historical principle" of distribution of catch quotas. After all the preliminary meetings and round tables, you presented the position of the Federal Agency for Fishery at a meeting of the profile Presidium of the State Council, which in some respects differs from the position of a number of representatives of the fishing community. What exactly is causing the disagreement and can it be resolved?

Quotas of state support - as an incentive for development
First, we are not talking about abandoning the "historical" principle. On the contrary, we want to preserve it and increase the time frame for assigning quotas to users. The main innovations relate to raising the threshold for the development of quota shares from 50% to 70%. At the same time, in order to eliminate quota rentiers, at least 70% of the volume of the received quota will have to be mastered on their own fishing vessels or on vessels purchased under a lease agreement. In addition, it is planned to create a single fishing space, within the framework of a single quota, fishermen themselves will choose to carry out coastal or industrial fishing. Coastal fishing implies the obligatory delivery of the catch to the shore for processing, along with these obligations, fishermen receive an increase in the quota. And one more important proposal is to subsidize part of the costs of fishermen during the construction of ships at domestic shipyards by allocating a certain part of quotas.

Secondly, we have no irreconcilable contradiction with the fishermen. When developing the bill, we took into account the interests of the state, consumers, fishermen, and at the same time discussed all proposals with the professional community. It is clear that the interests of individual business structures do not always coincide with the interests of the industry as a whole. But let me remind you that aquatic biological resources are a national treasure of Russia. We are facing state tasks to ensure food security, saturation of the market with high-quality and affordable Russian fish, for this we need to develop processing, increase the efficiency of the fishing fleet, and modernize the entire infrastructure. The fishing industry has a huge potential, and it needs to be realized.

At the same time, I would like to emphasize that the dialogue is not closed, and when introducing any changes, we are guided primarily by the principle of “do no harm”.

- The Far East basin is key in terms of catches. Fishermen of the Far East provide up to 80% of the total Russian catch, annually harvesting over 3 million tons of aquatic biological resources. Scientists from industry institutes are confident that this figure may grow significantly in the near future. At the expense of what and will the total amount of resources assumed for the allocation of quotas be increased?

The Far Eastern catch is still less - about 70% of the total catch. The main catch is pollock. If we cite the latest statistics, then out of the 2,3 million tons caught in the Far Eastern basin, more than 1,4 million tons fall on pollock. Among the main commercial objects of the Far East are herring, saury, squid and flounder. At the same time, scientists talk about the underutilized potential of the Far Eastern basin - one of the richest fishing areas in the World Ocean. We can increase the catch to 5 million tons only through the development of aquatic biological resources in this area. Industry science speaks of three sources through which this can be done. Firstly, this is an increase in the level of utilization of allocated quotas, which is also the aim of the amendments to the law on fisheries, which I mentioned above. The second group includes objects that are difficult to access for fishing - bottom aquatic biological resources and deep-water ones, including crabs. This also includes the resources of the Arctic. In addition, scientists predict the recovery of stocks of Iwashi and mackerel sardines, and therefore give recommendations for resuming their fishing. The introduction of these facilities can give up to 1 million tons of growth. But, unfortunately, after the termination of fishing in 1990-e years, the entire accompanying infrastructure collapsed - a specialized fleet with processing bases, technologies are also forgotten. Now we are discussing with fishermen and science steps to resume fishing and production.

- State support quotas are planned to be used for shipbuilding, development of coastal processing, for infrastructure projects, but it is not planned to give part of these quotas for ASEZs. Why? Indeed, a number of TOPs would be created for the processing of biological resources, and this industry is extremely important in the Far East, and without quotas it is quite difficult to wait for an investment inflow in such TOPs.

There are no contradictions here. We want to use the state support quotas as an incentive for the development of the fisheries sector as a whole, this is the level of federal support. The creation of TOP is also an incentive technology, but different. I would like to emphasize that the residents of the ASEZs will also be able to use the state subsidy in the form of a catch quota. At the same time, if necessary, additional support measures within the ASEZ can be considered.

- What, in your opinion, should be the role of Rosrybolovstvo in the technical modernization of the industry?

The role of the state is to create incentives, provide support. The business should be engaged in the development of the material and technical base to increase its own efficiency and competitiveness. We can say that this is what the bill is aimed at. You renew your fleet - get an additional quota, load onshore processing - get an additional quota. All enterprises that are interested in building modern vessels at Russian shipyards and delivering fish to shore will have the opportunity to take advantage of the proposed state support.

In addition, the developed bill envisages securing a share for the fish industry for a long period, which will ensure stability and a long-term planning horizon for investment in development.

- Many exporters brought their products to the Russian consumer. But, prices are going up. Recently, many media outlets reported an increase in the price of red caviar to 3000 per kg. What, in your opinion, are the reasons for the constantly growing final prices for the average consumer and is it possible to somehow influence this growth?

Due to the fact that the Russian fishing industry is export-oriented, prices on the domestic market grew following the dollar exchange rate. And although today more volumes go to the domestic market than before the introduction of counter-sanctions by our country, fishermen always have a choice - to take them to where they can sell for more or to show social responsibility and send them inland. Unfortunately, they are often inclined in favor of the first option because of the lack of the necessary infrastructure in our Far Eastern fishing ports - repairs, maintenance, sufficient modern refrigerating capacities, and so on. Therefore, it is necessary to create competitive conditions in Russian ports; we are developing a mechanism for interaction with port owners who rent quay walls from the state, which would involve investing in the development of these territories.

Returning to the cost of fish, I can say that now the situation has stabilized, there are already examples of declining dynamics of fish prices. As for your question about red caviar, the price increase may be noted in Sakhalin due to the not very successful salmon fishing season. But in Kamchatka, the salmon catch exceeded the 2013 figure by 42%, in the Khabarovsk Territory it was caught by 66% more than the same indicator of the year before, in the Magadan Region - by 40% more. Large suppliers say that they have already purchased for the pre-New Year and New Year period, when demand traditionally grows at times, the required volumes of products.

- Recently you reported that the Federal Agency for Fishery has developed a bill on labeling black caviar by analogy with the existing traceability system for products in the alcohol industry (EGAIS). In fact, it is a kind of excise stamp that costs something and will certainly increase the cost of finished products. Will this apply to any other products besides black caviar, for example, red? And, are there no such methods of control over the legality of the production of products that will not lead to its rise in price?

This bill provides for mandatory labeling of products from especially valuable and valuable types of aquatic biological resources and circulation on the territory of the Russian Federation and the requirement to provide information on labeling to the unified state automated information system for accounting for fish and other products from aquatic biological resources - by analogy with EGAIS. It will help to make the market transparent, legal, and cut off access to the turnover of poaching caviar, which will make the illegal catch of these valuable fish species economically inexpedient. Experts predict that similar systems will gradually come to other industries where there is a raw material link.

A rise in the price of caviar in connection with the introduction of the system is not expected, the share of costs for labeling in its cost will be insignificant, black caviar is an expensive product. At the same time, commercial sturgeon breeding is now developing, including the production of aquaculture black caviar, which in the future will make this product more affordable. In 2014, the production of sturgeon caviar in the Russian Federation, according to Rosstat, increased by 2,7% compared to the previous year and amounted to more than 30 tons, in the first half of 2015 - by 12%, to 25 tons.
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