Black halibut fishery moratorium finally lifted
At the 38-th session of the Russian-Norwegian Mixed Fisheries Commission the sides have agreed to lift a black halibut fishery ban which has been valid for 20 years, reports www.fishnet-russia.com (www.fishnet.ru) with reference to KP.
More specifically, the halibut quota is distributed as follows: 51% for Norway, 45% for Russia and 4% for third countries. The total catch volume in 2010 has been approved at 15,000 tonnes, of which Russian fishermen will be able to harvest 6750 tonnes, including 1600 tonnes to be harvested for research purposes and 5150 tonnes to be harvest for commercial purposes.
In the coming weeks PINRO fishery research institute will define the fishery tactics for the fishermen. The first variant is to put up the whole quota for auction. The second one is to harvest all the halibut as bycatch in other bottomfish operations (such as cod fishery) and the third variant is to sell a part of capture quotas at auction and allow to harvest a part of quotas as bycatch. Russia's Federal Fisheries Agency shall issue the respective order in the middle of December 2009 so that as of 1 January 2010 the fleets could start fishing for halibut.
Just like the halibut fishery, this year the moratorium for capelin fishery has been lifted and prices for this very popular fish in Russia have fallen several times.
However, general director of the Fishermen's Union of the North Vasily Nikitin is pessimistic when forecasting about halibut prices in 2010. He says that now wholesale prices for fresh halibut amount to about RUB250.00 per kilo and even after the ban is lifted they will hardly decrease noticeably, only by RUB20.00-30.00 per kilo probably. The thing is that the approved quota is fairly small, only twice bigger as compared to the bycatch of 3000 tonnes of halibut normally reported by the fishermen.
Commenting on the fishing methods Vasily Nikitin says that it is better to harvest the species as bycatch because if the small quota is put up for sale at auction it may go to a couple of companies only.