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"Competition should be developed in a different way"

Georgy Martynov on why it is impossible to change the principle of the "historical distribution" of the catch quotas

A possible change in the distribution system of quotas for the crab catch is one of the main topics among Russian fishery producers this year. The return of auctions for the sale of quotas is not the best way to affect the state of affairs in the industry and can lead to the fact that "with a hammer" after the crabs will go and other aquatic biological resources, according to the market. How does the "historical principle" of distributing quotas between fishing enterprises work, what can its cancellation lead to and who will it affect in the first place, "explains Georgy Martynov, president of the Association of Primorye Fisheries Enterprises, EastRussia.

- Why did the principle of the "historical distribution" of quotas for catching bioresources begin to be discussed right now?

- Each company has a share in the catch of aquatic biological resources, according to which Rosrybolovstvo annually issues an order to give this company a corresponding quota. If a company does not master the quota allocated to it for two consecutive years, it loses this share, which is subsequently sold at an auction. Currently, the share of the catch of aquatic biological resources is assigned to the companies for 10 years. This expires in 2018. And just now Rosrybolovstvo is working on the renewal of contracts for the allocation of quota shares for the next period, which is 15 years, that is, with 2019 for 2034 years. At the same time, recently the possibility of reforming the "historical principle" is being intensively considered. First, there was a proposal to do this with only one object - the crab, by exercising the right to harvest it through auctions. And today it is proposed to extend this principle to all aquatic biological resources.
- How should distribution of quotas occur for the next 15-year period?

- Since 1 April 2018, companies that have contracts for the right of catch are accepting applications. After their consideration for compliance with the norms of federal legislation, the share for each type of aquatic biological resources in the relevant fishing areas is calculated. After that, until 8 September 2018 with enterprises that have passed this procedure, contracts will be signed to consolidate quotas for catching aquatic biological resources for the next 15 years.
- And how will the situation develop if a decision is made to introduce access to aquatic biological resources through auctions?

- Such a period in the fishing industry has already been. With 2001 in 2003, the right to catch aquatic biological resources was determined by auctions. Whoever pays the most, he gets the right to catch. As a result, foreigners gained control over the main types of our national resources, and our fishermen who bought this right took upon themselves a heavy burden of expensive Russian loans, which were returned for many years.

If there is a return to the auctions, it will be possible to forget about updating the worn-out Russian fishing fleet for many years. The fishermen simply do not have any money left. In addition, this will necessarily affect the price and volumes of fish products supplied to the domestic market. Fish on the shelves of our stores will be smaller, and it will be more expensive. Fishermen will curtail a number of social programs that they conduct in their regions.

This will also happen because the government is considering increasing the payment for the right to catch aquatic biological resources. If today fishing enterprises pay 15% of the cost, which the state collects from fishermen for the right to fish, according to the Tax Code, this fee is planned to increase to 100%.
- But someone today supports the idea of ​​returning auctions? What is the motivation?

- The innovation supports the FAS. The antimonopoly authority believes: "Based on the current legislation, namely the" historical principle "of quota allocation, there is a high probability that there will not be new participants on the market, because upon the expiry of the contract, the organization will have the right to claim for a" historical principle "to renew the contract for a new 15-year tenure of mining rights.Low competition and guaranteed provision of resources will not create incentives for market participants to productivity and competitiveness

- Is there anything sensible in this position? 

- Of course, we do not agree with this opinion. I already spoke about investments in the industry and prices for fish products, but I want to say about the creation of competition and access to resources. In the Far East alone, 2018 million tons of aquatic biological resources are freely available in 1, for which a total allowable catch is not established. Anyone can use it. These include more than 12 thousand tonnes of crustaceans, including prickly and hairy crabs, Greenlandic, northern, angular shrimps and shrimps. Over 185 thousand tonnes of mollusks and other valuable objects in various fishing areas.

I would like to especially note that the industry in recent years has shown good results. In 2004, Russia recorded a historical minimum harvest of 2,9 million tons, and with the introduction of the "historical principle" of quota allocation to 2017, it reached almost 5 million tons. Competition should be developed not at the level of access to resources, but in another way - at the level of production and sale of fish products in the domestic market of the country.

- What does the market do to defend the "historical principle"?
- It is believed that everything new is a well-forgotten old, but not always "this old" can be good and to benefit the common cause. Therefore, the leaders of the key fishing associations of Russia are not going to let the situation go by themselves and have already addressed an open letter to President Vladimir Putin. It contains a request to "stop the restructuring of sectoral legislation in the interests of one fishing company and instruct the government of the Russian Federation to ensure the stability of the basic principles of the most important industry, the stability of enterprises operating in remote areas of our country."
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