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EastRussia expert on the results of crab auctions


Alexander Saveliev

Head of the Fisheries Information Agency

The results of the held crab auctions must be considered in the context of the failure of the entire Strategy for the development of the fishery complex of the Russian Federation for the period up to 2020. It failed completely, not a single indicator was met.

Over five years, fish has risen more than two times, consumption has fallen to the level of the 60 of the last century - up to 12,9 kg on average per person. This is almost two times lower than the healthy diet recommended by the Ministry of Health.

Crab auctions are back in the economy. 17-20 years ago, one of the initiators of auctions in the fishing industry was the head of the Ministry of Economic Development German Gref, who said:

"Of course, a ticket bought for fishing (and a crab - ed.) Is a kind of permit to carry out poaching."

Of course, the state, having once received 142,36 billion rubles for crab lots in water, issued permits for poaching fishing of the crab, which, as shown by previous years, leads to the erosion of its stocks, to the reduction of tax revenues, primarily to regional budgets, curtailment of social programs, to the ruin of small and medium-sized companies and to the crisis as a whole, as we clearly saw at the beginning of the zero.

However, before we encounter these negative phenomena in the coming years, let us take a look at the results of the crab auctions held today.

Firstly, the state received income that could be obtained without auctions, without breaking the basic, historical principle of allocating quotas. The state could receive such income in 15 years, just increasing the rate of collection for crab on average to 100 thousand rubles per ton.

Secondly, the crab of the Far East went to one of the large companies at the starting price. There was essentially no auction. Where the auction really took place and where prices were inflated to "space", the company was not allowed to the crab.

Thirdly, the 40% of crabs received at the "auctions" from all the crabs put up for auction in the Far East turned out to be at a price three times less than they were at the crab auctions in May 2017. That is, the prices for the state are in fact three times lower than two years ago. Such a decrease was predictable, since 50% of all crab quotas were put up for sale at one time, and not 5%, as was the case in 2017. At the same time, all operating enterprises, including small and medium-sized ones, which did not even have the opportunity to participate in these auctions, lost 50% of their quotas.

Fourth, the creation of a competitive environment for which the FAS advocated did not take place. As a result, not a single new player has appeared. Moreover, there was an even greater concentration of quotas among several large companies in the Far East, and a participant from the Far East appeared in the North.

Fifthly, we have yet to observe the disruption of investment obligations for the construction of specialized crab vessels in Russian shipyards. And by the way, nowhere in the world practice do they build specialized vessels for catching crabs.

Sixth, crab, as a resource that is in the water, and even taken from traditional fishers, has not been sold or even planned for implementation. 

Seventhly, bankers are the only ones who have benefited from crab auctions. 142,36 billion rubles includes about 15-20% of own funds of companies and at least 80-85% of borrowed bank loans that must be repaid with interest. Thus, it will take at least 12-13 years to “recapture” these auction costs, which provide borrowed funds and the cost of building new crab fishing vessels within the limits of the allocated quotas. A very risky venture, and even taking into account the instability of crab stocks.

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