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Fishermen demand legal stability

Alexander Saveliev about what the president is saying - and what the government is doing

Fishermen demand legal stability
Photo: Mikhail Klimentev / TASS

Alexander Saveliev

Head of the Fisheries Information Agency

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in the congress of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) and called for a reduction in pressure on business and risks for investors. It is necessary to speed up work on the draft law on the protection and promotion of investment in Russia, he said. Thus, the state promises to provide stable conditions for the implementation of investment projects.

The President traditionally speaks at congresses of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs about creating conditions for business and considers it essential to ensure the immutability of the rules during their implementation, as well as to formulate concrete measures that will reduce the risks of investors. All these positions need to be clearly stated in the law on encouraging and protecting capital investments, the head of state said.

The main business proposals sounded in unison: give us a guarantee that you will not change the legislation that will affect our business.

The event was held in Moscow at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel. On the same day, three kilometers away, on Krasnopresnenskaya Embankment, 2, a meeting of the Russian government was held at the Government House of the Russian Federation, at which it was proposed to radically change the Russian fishing legislation and introduce the auction distribution of quotas.

The business community has been beating all the bells for a year and a half, protesting against these very auctions, which plunged the fish industry sixteen years ago into a deep social and economic crisis. According to the conclusion of the professional community, experts, prominent scientists, heads of coastal entities, this auction project creates enormous risks for the investment climate in the fishing industry. This was also pointed out in the conclusion on the assessment of the regulatory impact of the Ministry of Economic Development, the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, the Accounts Chamber.

The project developer Rosrybolovstvo, in turn, refers to the fact that the economic activity of the industry’s enterprises is profitable and has sufficient profitability to create their own financial reserves.

Anyway, the government sends the document to the State Duma. So far the deputies are ready to blow up the socio-economic situation in the fishing industry, will show soon. However, what Rosrybolovstvo itself has shown is already visible.

The investment quota program, according to which all fishermen of Russia lost 20% of the allowable catch, and for which they also changed the law, issuing about thirty government decrees, was actually failed. Courts are overwhelmed with claims by fish industrialists who cannot receive resource support.

According to the same Rosrybolovstvo, in 2012, the industry had 4000 vessels. Two years later - 2600. That is, the rate of disposal of the fishing fleet, the deterioration of which is estimated at 90%, is catastrophic. A new only promise to build around 30, of which 7 only laid at the shipyard. At this rate, it will take more than 100 years to restore potential. And then, provided that the companies do not abandon the program, as, for example, the Preobrazhenskaya Trawl Fleet base did.

VARPE President German Zverev said: “We can talk about system failure and the project for the development of coastal processing.”

In Rosrybolovstvo itself, the Prosecutor General's Office found large-scale violations that caused total damage to the Russian budget in the amount of about 2 billion rubles. A number of these violations clearly serve the benefit of Gleb Frank's Russian Fishery Company. For example, the deputy head of Rosrybolovstvo Petr Savchuk was the general director of the RRPK for several years. The supreme supervisory authority appealed to the head of the Ministry of Agriculture, Dmitry Patrushev, with a submission in which the head of the department, Ilya Shestakov, is ordered to exclude such conflicts of interest, which is a corruption article.

The inspection was conducted by the Prosecutor General’s Office from December 2018 of the year to March of 2019. The decision to hold it took another December 3 interdepartmental commission of the Security Council. One of the findings of the audit concerned the loss of the head of the Russian Fishery Agency, Ilya Shestakov, of control over his department. 

The legislative ban on foreign ownership of companies that produce aquatic biological resources for some reason did not affect the Singapore-owned company DMP-RM, which was promptly sold to a structure affiliated with the RRPK. The remaining five companies, on the instructions of Petr Savchuk, removed quotas.

And the loudest story in which even President Vladimir Putin had to intervene happened with a whale prison. The fact that marine mammals - killer whales and beluga whales caught in violation of the law are kept in the Bay of Srednya near Nakhodka from 2018, was reported by numerous media and the scandal without exaggeration turned out to be universal.

Therefore, the fishermen, like President Vladimir Putin, want one thing - legal stability.

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