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Millions of hectares of emptiness

Alexander Saveliev on the online service for investors in aquaculture from the FRGF

Millions of hectares of emptiness
Photo: Vladislav T. Jirousek /

Alexander Saveliev

Head of the Fisheries Information Agency
Recently, the Far East Development Fund announced that "a new legal framework and an online service for investors in mariculture has been created." Referring to the instructions of the President and the government of Russia, as well as to the prepared concept for the development of aquaculture, approved in February 2017 by the subcommittee on the development of the fishery sector of the Far East under the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister, Presidential Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yuri Trutnev, the fund claims that the formation of legal framework aimed at restructuring the fish farming industry in the Far Eastern Federal District, eliminating excessive administrative barriers in fish farming, introducing advanced digital technologies for distributing fish farming sites. 

It sounded very optimistic and ... presumptuous.

All is well, if the literal day before, at the III All-Russian Congress "Legal regulation of aquaculture in Russia 2018" participants would not be summarized: the regulatory and legal regulation of fish farming needs to be improved. If a little earlier, on the day of Vladimir Putin's announcement of a message to the Federal Assembly of EastRussia, would publish the statement of AMKOR - Association of Maricultural Organizations of the Primorye Territory: "The Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East helps the development of aquaculture, but other departments are slowing down" ... If, in general, the legal regulation of aquaculture had not begun to form at the end of the last century, and such "would" not have accumulated several volumes over 18 years ...  

In 1990, the Russian Federation grew and sold about the same quantity of commercial fish as there are now - about 200 thousand tons. World aqua and mariculture grows annually for 4 million tons of high-quality protein. Only in China, where, by the way, there is no law on aquaculture, produce more than 50 million tons of fish.

Regulatory legal regulation of aquaculture in modern history goes back to the decree of the Government of Russia from 31 October 1999 N1201 "On the development of commodity fish farming and fisheries carried out in the inland waters of the Russian Federation", signed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin: "Accept the proposal ... on the increase in comparison with 1998 year, the volume of growing and catching fish in inland waters in 2000 year on 100 thousand tons, in 2005 year on 250 thousand tons and on bringing from 2006 this year to 600 thousand tons per year". Now such tasks are put only to 2030 year.

For 18 years, no matter how stimulated the development of aquaculture! Both loans and funds for the acquisition of small-scale fishing vessels, fish equipment, and appropriations for state support to fisheries management organizations engaged in fish farming, growing and fishing in inland waters, and funds from the target budgetary Fund for Management, Research, Conservation and Reproduction of Aquatic Biological Resources , and means of the federal leasing fund, and projects of federal programs such as "Aquaculture of Russia in the period up to 2005 year", providing for I have accelerated the development of commodity sturgeon. " A lot of documents were released on this topic.

Nothing helped.

The law "On Aquaculture", adopted five years ago, did not help either.

At one of the key meetings on the development of aquaculture in the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev said: "I would like to stress right away that at the federal and regional levels so far this sector has not received sufficient attention, at least the attention that this industry has today deserves. Meanwhile, in the world's fisheries, aquaculture is considered one of the key factors in the saturation of the domestic food market. Today it is the most dynamically developing market, the most dynamically developing industry ... "

It was then that I began to doubt that our generation could benefit from this exhausting legislative work.

Over the past 18 years on the subject of aquaculture, a number of meetings have been held, so many decisions have been made, so many documents have been signed, which is a shame to enumerate. The result is zero! Zero! 0!

And here's another piece of paper: “The document, instead of the permitting procedure for the creation of mariculture sites, introduces a declarative one. The rules establish the obligation of state bodies to analyze all kinds of prohibitions and publicly bring to the attention of investors a list of zones where you can freely start a fish farming business. FRDV, in partnership with Roskartografia, analyzed the established restrictions and formed a specialized Internet resource, which, taking into account the adopted resolution, transfers the initiative to create a fish breeding site from the government agency directly to the investor and provides it with tools in the form of an interactive map of available water areas. And so on…

The presentation ends with the words "The information base generated during the project implementation will be transferred to the authorized federal executive bodies, and investors will have access to the online service free of charge." In this proposal, the entire doom of the project is concluded. The developed instrument will be transferred to "authorized federal executive bodies" - where it will rot, like the previous normative legal humus accumulated over 18 years.

One hope that the accumulated nutrients will give at least some shoots for almost twenty years. However, it is now completely unclear what efforts and time will be required by all these funds and bodies to restore investor confidence.

I repeat once again: "The information base, formed during the project implementation, will be transferred to the authorized federal executive bodies, and investors will have access to the online service free of charge." About when we get a seafood word. This is generally not a question. Although the same press release issued by the "Far East Development Fund" provides specific data: "Based on the analysis of 110 million hectares of water area within the 12-mile zone of the Far Eastern Fisheries Basin, it has been established that 65 million hectares are not burdened with restrictions for conducting fish-breeding business."

Can you imagine how much seafood you could get in these open spaces over the past 18 years ?! It's hard even to count ...

Commented Dmitry Chernyshev, Deputy Director General of the FRDF:

- The author has a misconception about the role of the Fund in this project and the objectives of the restructuring of the industry. The Fund initially did not plan to become a mega investor in aquaculture, since this business requires not only capital, but also related special competencies. We have set ourselves the task of making a transparent procedure for the distribution of the resource in the form of a section of the water area among investors. Transfer the process from the offices of officials to open access, using modern digital technologies. And we did it. 

Previously, entrepreneurs could not get a proper site, or they led an exhausting backstage struggle for it. Now we have created a showcase available to everyone. The author of the text looks at 65 million hectares, not burdened with restrictions for conducting fish-breeding business, as in millions of hectares of emptiness. We are convinced that this is a million hectares of entrepreneurial freedom for those Russian entrepreneurs who really want to deal with this complex agricultural business.
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