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From gathering to growing

Experts evaluated the trend of the revival of marine gardens in the Far East

The potential success of aquaculture in Russia is almost guaranteed by nature itself, and its deplorable state can only be explained by the fact that business has always found easier ways to generate income. Today, finally, these prospects can be translated into reality - the industry has emerged from many years of stagnation and quickly went into growth: this is facilitated by the legislative framework and state support for development, moreover, Chinese businessmen are ready to seriously invest in it. Thus, two of the three components (according to Marx) of surplus value - land and capital - are already there, it remains to find work somewhere.

From gathering to growing
Photo: TASS, Photobank VEF
Mariculture (and, more broadly, aquaculture) in Russia is an industry with a difficult fate: in terms of way of life, it is more likely related to agriculture than fishing, but is part of the responsibility of the Federal Fisheries Agency, it has always remained on the sidelines, as in the allocation water area and in the regulatory framework. The law on aquaculture, which was officially adopted in 2013, practically didn’t work until recently, there were no areas for mariculture, as farmers themselves say, because of the lobbying of fishermen who need the same places for fishing. The root cause of the disagreement is considered to be a confused coastal zone management mode, in which 10 types of use coexist, usually in conflict relations with each other. The legal base has also constantly changed: if after the adoption of the law, the plots were allocated for projects, then they were later distributed by competition, then for investments and by auction results.

In Europe, Asia and the USA, aquaculture is a huge business with billions in turnover and tens of million tons of marketable production. Everything that can be eaten is cultivated - fish, mollusks, algae, crustaceans. In the USSR, the first decision on the development of mariculture was made in 1961 year, and the first farms appeared in 1972. The coast of the southern part of the Far East, mainly of the Primorsky Territory, has very good climatic characteristics for cultivating delicacies of sea cucumbers and scallops than they used in Soviet times: in the 1980, the scalloped plantation near the village of Glazkovka in Lazovsky was the most famous marine industry in Primorye. area. In addition to marine gardens, there were freshwater ones, for example, growing fish in paddy checks in the area of ​​Lake Khanka. In 1990-s, the majority of farms closed, and until recently, few people were engaged in aquaculture, both because of difficulties with the plots, and because of the need for long investments: the average ridge plantation in the first four years requires investments of approximately 20 million rubles annually and only in the fifth or sixth year does the harvest appear.

In the current year, according to market participants, the case finally got off the ground, and several dozen sites have already been put up for auction. The Federal Agency for Fishery announced tenders for 260 plots in 28 thousand hectares, another 570 on 41 thousand hectares, preparatory work is underway to organize auctions. Nevertheless, seafarers have a lot of problems, a special section “Aquaculture: the first steps of the new industry” was devoted to discussing them at the WEF. Section moderator Eduard Klimov (media holding Fishnews) stated quite good growth rates of farm production - 220 thousand tons in 2017, by 7% more than last year. The highest growth rates are observed in Primorsky Krai.

The head of the Russian Fishery Agency, Ilya Shestakov, identified aquaculture as the most important strategic direction, which has a great future in the Far East, and reported on the distribution of aquaculture in Russian 500 waters to thousands of hectares of water area, of which around 60 thousand hectares are in Primorsky Krai. In addition to plantations, in the region (on Sakhalin and Kamchatka), so-called grazing aquaculture is the artificial cultivation of fish fry followed by release into natural habitat. In this part, the Federal Fishery Agency intends to complete the adoption of a law on the formation of sites for existing plants. In 2030 g, in the aquaculture development strategy, it is planned to receive 100 thousand tons of products in marine farms, mainly Far Eastern, and 600 thousand tons from farms operating on inland waters. The state expects the industry 36 billion rubles in annual revenues in GRP and the creation of 12 thousand jobs. To achieve such indicators, it is necessary to increase the productivity of plantations (today it averages 60 kg / ha with the standard 1 t / ha). The development of the industry is hampered by a number of serious problems, including the lack of technology and trained personnel, sources of planting material. All of the above must be imported.

Poaching is one of the main problems: the locals switched from harvesting wild trepang and scallop, knocked out on the coast in 90, to plantation robbery, raiding them in cages reaches commercial size. This illegal activity, strictly speaking, is not poaching, since the withdrawal of resources (that is, theft) does not come from specially protected areas, but from private farms.

Valentin Boguslavsky ("Nereid") said that the police, which the users of the sites call for help, are often powerless. Even detaining thieves red-handed, she cannot confiscate boats and fishing gear, as the intruders go to work on other people's boats, and because of the undervalued bio-resources, damage is estimated at a minimal cost, as a result of which law enforcement agencies have no reason to initiate proceedings on stealing. The coastal zone, said Mr. Boguslavsky, despite many users and regulators, does not have a special responsible controller (such as the coast guard), therefore neither the police, nor the FSB, nor the maritime inspection fully consider coastal waters as their zone of responsibility.

Alexander Efremov (“Dobroflot”) described poaching as a social problem generated by the lack of other sources of income for the local population, and suggested solving it by “displacing” more civilized forms of economic activity - developing the aquaculture business and attracting the coastal residents as hired workers: when in farms a critical mass of the population will be involved, poaching will decline.

The head of the Federal Agency for Fishery also noted the discrepancy between the interests of mariculture and environmental legislation - this is manifested in the calculation of the damage caused, this issue is being discussed with the Ministry of Natural Resources. Roman Vityazev (Far Eastern Union of Mariculture Enterprises) noted the problem of entering a part of the water area suitable for mariculture within the protected areas, about 80 thousand hectares are now excluded from economic circulation, while they were used during Soviet times. We are talking about the coastal water area of ​​the Marine Reserve in Posyet Bay, where economic activity is prohibited, including the breeding of aquatic organisms. In the 1974 year, according to Mr. Vityazev, these waters were removed from the control of the navy in order to reproduce biological resources. Today, businessmen are negotiating with the authorities and the Academy of Sciences on obtaining permission to use the water area for plantations, for which they agree to accept restrictions on the types of cultivated aquatic organisms.

Another important problem is personnel: today in Primorye 77 aquaculture enterprises, due to the availability of plots, their number is growing rapidly and may soon reach several hundred. But there are not enough specialists for breeding hydrobionts - only Dalrybvtuz from local universities is trained; not all employers are satisfied with the quality of this training. Plantations need technologists, managers, accountants, lawyers; need refresher courses for seafarers. During the post-Soviet period, almost all the competences in this area have been lost, so in the absence of their own specialists, they have to hire Chinese, who have both experience and technology. But, as Mr. Shestakov rightly noted, Russian aquaculture should have its own specialists and own experience in the development and application of technologies.

To some extent, the situation created for the better should be created on about. Popova mariculture center TINRO, where technologies of cultivation of sea cucumbers and kelp will be developed. The issue of training requires a decision at the regional level - for example, several years ago the presidential envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev, as chairman of the supervisory board of FEFU, instructed to organize a center of competence for mariculture at the university. Nothing like this has yet appeared in the structure of FEFU, although such a center, created on the basis of the School of Natural Sciences in conjunction with the IBM Far-Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, including the scientific and educational component — in the form of specialized programs for applicants and refresher courses for farm workers — would look here quite organically.

Digitalization is rapidly entering everyday economic practice, aquaculture did not stand aside - several aspects of the use of electronic services were discussed at the section. Veterinary certification of products is carried out through the "Mercury" system of the Rosselkhoznadzor - however, as Valentin Boguslavsky said, if last year veterinary examination cost 3,5 thousand rubles and took three days, then after the introduction of "Mercury" for some reason it began to cost 30 thousand and spend 6 days or more, which creates great difficulties for companies that sell live products. Roman Vityazev noted the usefulness of user participation in the first steps of digitalization of the industry, since this allows the system to be adjusted to their needs. In particular, he proposed to supplement "Mercury" with a special section on accounting for planting material, growing and withdrawing commercial products, as well as combine it in a "one window" mode with the portals of the Federal Tax Service and the Federal Agency for Fishery: this will allow the user to enter data from a computer, fill out acts of release of juveniles , receive veterinary certificates, which will automatically go to Rosrybolovstvo. This, according to Mr. Vityazev, will facilitate the work and save both parties, users and the regulator, from a pile of papers and overloaded reporting.

Alexander Tashintsev (Fund for the Development of the Far East) presented to the participants a new interactive Internet service for submitting applications for sites and conducting auctions in electronic form. Using this service, the investor himself can determine the desired area, select a plot by coordinates, adjust its area (from 100 to 5000 ha) and send an application for a plot to the Russian Fishery Agency, where there are rules for processing such statements. Simultaneously with the formation of the boundaries of the site is putting it on an electronic auction. The signing of the use of documents and the contract is also made in electronic form. The service also sends information about the formation of the site to the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Defense, notifying them of the need to make changes to the navigation regime.

Until the end of September, 40 plots with an area of ​​9 thousand hectares will be raffled. This service, according to Mr. Tashintsev, reduces the risks of the “human factor” - in other words, the likelihood of corruption in the distribution of sites. Alexander Efremov, in turn, noted the problem that the electronic service has aggravated: if you do not limit the choice of the size of the site, then the interests of adjacent sites may suffer. Size matters, since it is not economically feasible to engage in mariculture in areas below a certain minimum. Roman Vityazev stated the need to bind the coordinates of the plots to the coastline and to allot the user a land plot together with the hatchery, since it is impossible to engage in mariculture without the coast. Mr. Vityazev suggested that the fund, together with the administration of the Primorsky Territory, contribute to the service data on free land plots - which will allow the investor to make a decision on choosing the water area, taking into account the availability of free land on the bank.

It seems that following the site selection / reporting procedure to the regulators, the plantations themselves will be subjected to digitization. So far, the use of modern technologies on them, with temperature sensors and automation, is hampered by the lack of telecommunications infrastructure on the coast. The CEO of Tele2, Sergey Emdin, declared his company's readiness to act as a technological partner in aquaculture digitalization, and for a start suggested to create a pilot zone with a good communication coverage on a certain stretch of coast that allows seafarers to automate and optimize the production process.

The representative of Chinese aquaculture, President of Wenlian Aquaculture, Qiu Gonan, spoke at the end of the section: in his opinion, Russia has great advantages in aquaculture - clean water and a free coast. Questions of poaching, digitalization, distribution channels, etc., according to the guest, are secondary, but the primary increase in production capacity. Mr. Gonan urged the Russian state to provide the industry with serious support - for example, to reduce import taxes (obviously, from the PRC) of juvenile aquatic animals and aquaculture equipment, and expressed the desire of Chinese investors to shift their attention from Chinese and North American farms to the development of aquaculture in Russia where they are willing to invest about 4 billion yuan (40 billion rubles).

But according to their Chinese counterpart, Far Eastern fish farmers need to act quickly - otherwise the market will be occupied by competitors. Sergey Maslennikov (Institute of Marine Biology, Far East Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences) explained the reasons for such generosity: not so long ago, China found a serious depletion of natural ecosystems due to their over-exploitation by numerous aquaculture farms, after which it was decided to reduce seafood production by 2020 mln tons by 5. The Chinese are going to compensate for the shortage of products with investments abroad, including in the Far East.

We dare to disagree with the Chinese expert in terms of priorities: as Russian practice shows, logistics and sales are the most important conditions for the success of a baker, because the main profit is usually at the end of the chain. The proposed model, which implies the import of everything except water, is more similar to leasing the water area, it logically continues the 90-s practice of buying Chinese wild trepang from poachers, but should not suit the Russian side. Due to limited time, other issues were also ignored by the section participants, such as the production of equipment for farms — a quite suitable market (agriculture engineering) for engineering startups. In any case, a lot will change in a year, and industry representatives will have something to discuss at WEF-2019.
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