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Maricultural shock

The business of growing seafood left without the sea

Maricultural shock
Photo: shutterstock
Commercial organizations of Primorsky Krai engaged in the cultivation of valuable seafood in Posyet Bay face serious pressure from the supervisory authorities. In fact, they are forced to wind down their business. Enterprises are required to remove sea gardens located within the boundaries of natural monuments of federal and regional significance. Recently, the Trepang and Scallop plantations located in the western part of the Far Eastern Marine Biosphere Reserve have been liquidated, and Zarubinsky Navy Base LLC was required to do so. This decision was taken by the Arbitration Court of the Primorsky Territory.

LLC "Zarubinskaya Navy Base" concluded a long-term agreement with the reserve on the joint implementation of the model project "Sustainable Nature Management in Marine Waters: Experimental Mariculture". In accordance with this document, the commercial firm received a long-term lease of about 100 ha of the reserve's water area.

EastRussia HelpThe Far Eastern Marine Biosphere Natural State Reserve was founded in 1978 year. Here there are more than 5 thousand species of plants and animals. This is the only specially protected natural area in Russia, 98% of the area is occupied by the sea. In 2003, the reserve became a participant in UNESCO's "Man and the Biosphere" program and received the status of a biosphere reserve. The reserve consists of four districts with different protection regimes. In the eastern region, the seizure and introduction of any organisms is prohibited, this is a completely protected area. In the Southern region, scientific research, photo and video shooting are allowed. The northern region, located on the island of Popov, is open to visitors. Here is the administration of the reserve, the Center for Environmental Education, the Museum "Nature of the Sea and Its Protection", the archaeological and ethnographic complex "Heritage". In the Western region, since 70-ies of the last century, experiments were conducted on the development of mariculture, in particular, trepanga, scallop, mussels, oysters and sea kale.

At the end of 2017, the Primorsky Krai prosecutor's office applied to the regional arbitration court demanding that the agreement between the Far Eastern marine biosphere reserve and the Zarubin base of the fleet be invalidated. As a third person, the Federal Agency of Scientific Organizations (FAO) was brought to trial. In September 2017, the Agency amended the regulations on the Far Eastern marine biosphere reserve, and now any fishery activity is prohibited on the reserve territory. The ban applies to all previously established marine aquaculture plantations.

At the end of January, the court session was held. The court upheld the plaintiff's side. "To oblige OOO Zarubinsky Navy Base to release a site of limited economic use by the area of ​​100 ha in the Bay of Minonosok of the Western section of the Far Eastern Marine Biosphere State Nature Reserve from maricultural plantations," the court decision said.

EastRussia HelpLLC "Zarubinsky base of the fleet" specializes in the extraction and processing of fish and seafood. The number of the company is about 350 people. At the moment, the main owner of the company is Alena Dremlyuga, she owns 99,8%. Earlier the company was owned by her husband Dmitry Dremlyuga, who now does not live in Russia. Dmitry Dremlyuga is a figurant of several criminal cases related to crab and fish auctions.

With a high probability of invalidation of the agreement between the "Zarubin base of the fleet" and the reserve means that no one will compensate losses of the commercial organization. About what exactly the amount in question, in LLC EastRussia is not explained.

Roman Vityazev, co-chairman of the Coordinating Council of the Far Eastern Union of Aquaculture Associations, notes that the former leadership of the Far Eastern Marine Reserve, initiated by the environmental prosecutor's office, initiated the introduction of amendments to the provision on the security zones of the FEFC. The item that excluded the activities of mariculture enterprises was excluded from the document. Further, the ban on any economic activity on the territory of the reserve and its protection zones was approved by the FAO.
 
"As far as we know, this was done specifically to remove the" Zarubin fleet base "from the marine reserve. Now, according to available information, the FAOO management understands this situation, and it is even possible that the ban on aquaculture will be abolished, however, in our opinion, there are no judicial prospects for the "Zarubin base of the fleet," says Roman Vityazev.

According to the coordinating council of the Far Eastern Union of Aquaculture Associations, 12 mariculture enterprises operate in the regional PAs. Unlike the "Zarubinsky base of the fleet," they conduct economic activities on the basis of contracts for the use of fish breeding sites, concluded with the Federal Agency for Fisheries for 20 years. Nevertheless, these enterprises face very serious pressure from regional officials.

According to Roman Vityazev, a large-scale campaign aimed at "squeezing" mariculture enterprises from their sites began two years ago.

"This activity is conducted systematically," notes Vityazev. - Director of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of Primorsky Krai Alexander Korshenko has formed a negative position of the Ministry of Natural Resources in relation to mariculture. The decision of Primorsky krai executive committee for 1974 year was raised, on the basis of which, according to Korshenko, the activities of aquaculture enterprises are contrary to the regime of specially protected natural areas. Immediately, the "environmentalists" and "social activists" joined in, who began to write letters to the president, to the Prosecutor General's Office, to the Security Council, and then downward. Moreover, by a strange coincidence of circumstances, many verbal turns in these letters and in documents of supervisory bodies coincided up to a point.

The authors of the letters accused the mariculture enterprises of the fact that their activities are only a cover for poaching. In other words, the lion's share of the seafood supplied by them is not grown on plantations, but caught in the wild.

"Mariculture farms" Zarubin Base of the Fleet "LLC," Hyperion "LLC," Zoroz "LLC, IP Zharkov EA," Aqua Technologies Plus "LLC are illegally operating within the boundaries of the PAs. We believe that these companies exploit the natural reserves of aquatic biological resources and actually legalize the results of poaching. These companies have repeatedly been brought to justice for environmental violations and violation of fishing rules ... In addition, poachers use the documents of the above companies to legalize illegal products ... Covering with documents for their fish-breeding areas, these "mountain-marivods" illegally ship their goods to China, - stated in one of these letters.

Environmentalists also accused businessmen of the fact that the scallop and trepanga plantations cause irreparable ecological damage to the monuments of nature: "As a result of the economic activities of OOO Zarubinskaya Navy Base, the ecosystem of the Minonosok Bay and the coastal strip has degraded, further it can lead to its complete destruction, was noted in the same letter.

Mariculturists, in turn, consider these accusations as absurd. "For example, with respect to the same" Zarubinsk base of the fleet, "what environmental damage can the reserve be told at all if last year they put on the market only about 40 tons of products from their plantations in the bay of Minonosok? - the representative of the Association of Maricultural Organizations of the Primorye Territory comments on the situation. "This is a little more than one percent of the total volume of seafood produced in the region - a meager figure."

In the opinion of entrepreneurs, criminal appeals of poachers are behind such appeals, which became the initiators of the information campaign directed against mariculturists. Poachers, like no other, are interested in the liquidation of sea gardens in the areas of protected areas. After all, their owners put up physical protection on their plantations, depriving the poachers of access to valuable resources.

- I myself talked with representatives of one of these criminal groups, - says Roman Vityazev. - They told me: "We also have a business. Let it be shadow, but from this it does not cease to be a business. And when we see that our areas of the sea go under aquaculture, we are forced to take measures. "
According to Vityazev, one of the appeals of the "public" about the sea gardens in general turned out to be a fake.

- "Public" at the end of last year published a letter of a famous professor from South Korea, "says Vityazev. - The complaint was sent to the President, to the Security Council, to the Minister of Culture and so on. The professor said that aquaculture enterprises damage the unique archaeological site of the Bohai culture on the shore of the Expedition bay. And only the regime of a specially protected natural area allows this monument to be preserved. Therefore, it is necessary to remove the existing sea gardens from the bay and prevent the emergence of new ones. The prosecutor's office and other supervisory authorities worked out this complaint and sent a reply to the professor. After a while they received a letter from him in which he expressed, let's say, bewilderment over what had happened and said that he had not applied to any complaints. This is a vivid example of how the information war is being fought against us ...

As an example of the fact that the environmental agenda is just a cover for another redistribution of sea areas, businessmen are leading the Mechel coal terminal, also located in Posyet Bay. The constant discharge of sewage and coal dust into the sea does not cause such a large-scale public resonance and attention of the prosecutor's office as the cultivation of trepanga. At the same time, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Territorial Department of Natural Resources agreed on the withdrawal of the marine water area of ​​the coal terminal of the Posiet port from the borders of the nature monument.

- There is an elementary redistribution of property, redistribution of cash flows, - says Roman Vityazev. - At this stage, we see that several currents have been formed to counteract aquaculture enterprises. If at first it was exclusively criminal, today we are experiencing more systemic pressure, in particular, from the prosecutor's office and the Ministry of Environment. This involves people with general's epaulettes, who are not afraid of anything. They absolutely do not care what Truknev or Medvedev gave the instructions for the development of aquaculture in the region ...

However, entrepreneurs note that in recent times the situation around mariculture in PAs has been shifting from a dead center.

- After the change of the head of the region, the situation began to change for the better, - says Roman Vityazev. - Now, with the participation of an interdepartmental working group headed by the vice-governor Valentin Dubinin, a regulatory and legal framework is being worked out that will enable the existing enterprises to continue working in the PAs and form new hatchery plots. At one of the last meetings of the group, it was decided to entrust one of the leading scientific organizations of the FGBNU region, TINRO-Center, to prepare a rationale for the activities of marine aquaculture enterprises within the boundaries of specially protected natural areas. Head of Rosrybolovstvo Ilya Shestakov also confirmed that if such a rationale emerges, then in certain volumes the activity of aquaculture enterprises within the boundaries of specially protected natural areas can be resolved.

Approximately at the same time, in relation to users of fish breeding sites in the PA Poset Bay, a pre-investigation check began on a regular complaint of "concerned" citizens. The audit is conducted by the Department of Economic Security and Anti-Corruption of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation in Primorsky Krai, to which this complaint was submitted by the regional Department of Natural Resources.

"We believe that the next check is organized to reveal at least some violations in the activities of mariculture enterprises and get new trump cards at meetings in the regional administration, and put pressure on the business," says Roman Vityazev. - In fact, from the plane of lawmaking, the conflict is artificially transferred to the administrative or even criminal plane.

What will end the confrontation is unclear. In any case, the process of making changes to the legislation that will allow commercial enterprises to conduct economic activities within the boundaries of protected areas will not be quick. And all this time the aquaculture enterprises will continue to experience pressure from the prosecutor's office and the Ministry of Natural Resources, as well as to bear material and reputational losses. Whether there will be a "redistribution" of the market, which Roman Vityazev says, is a big question, but its "mopping-up" continues.
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