Fishermen of Russian Far East complaining of administrative barriers

April 10, 2009 16:56

The fishermen of the Russian Far East have asked First Deputy Chairman of Russia's Government Viktor Zubkov to scrutinize an order issued by the Ministry of Agriculture stipulating the rules of veterinary and sanitary expertise of fish and fish roe, reports  ( ) with reference to Primamedia.

More specifically, the fishermen say that the Ministry's order No. 462 "On approval of Rules of veterinary-sanitary expertise of marine fish and roe" conflicts with the Government's Plan of anti-crisis measures, one of the key points of which is elimination of administrative barriers.

The fishermen are concerned that the order does not contain precise and plain wordings for the cases when it is necessary to conduct products' sanitary and veterinary expertise. And if the document can be interpreted in different ways, it can encourage corruption by officials from the nation's state veterinary body.

According to the same document, in order to conduct the expertise the fishermen shall provide up to 5% of the product lot for testing thus potentially leading to unreasonable waste of product.

Besides, the Association claims that the order creates a dangerous precedent in the sphere of wild stocks regulation as the government takes fees for exploitation of aquatic biological resources without guaranteeing their safety to human's health. That is why the pollock fishermen say that all the surveys as to fish safety should be carried out before the TACs approval or the Ministry's order should be applicable to aquaculture businesses only.

The Pollock Association suggests considering the issue at the next meeting of the government's commission on fishery development aspects.

Other administrative barriers

The above mentioned order of Russia's Ministry of Agriculture is not the only recently approved document causing fishermen's concerns.

In particular, during the pollock fishery of 2008 there was a scandal caused by ambiguous interpretation of the fishery regulations. At that time, the coast guards from the Northeast frontier department arrested several dozens of the Russian vessels as they have exceeded the norms of pollock roe yield. Variances in the fishery regulations resulted into idleness of the arrested vessels who had to stay at ports. The Pollock Association estimated the loss from the vessels' arrests by the frontier guards at more than 200 million RUB. Only several months later the Office of Public Prosecutor confirmed that the frontier guards had violated the law.

In spring 2009 ripples in fishery circles have been caused by the Technical Regulation "Food products from aquatic bioresources". In the end of March 2009 delegates of the Legislative Assembly of Primorsky Krai Territory (capital Vladivostok) proposed introduction of amendments to the above mentioned federal draft law. The delegates say that it is important to pass such a law, but the current draft law does not comply with the state policy aimed at elimination of excessive administrative barriers for seafood producers.

Along these lines, the delegates proposed to cancel giving a Fishery Register ID to a production facility and complex located at the same address or onboard the same vessel. The fishermen say the provision will create a serious administrative barrier which is observed in none of the food industry sectors. Besides, the procedure of giving a Fishery Register ID is very long and expensive.

Another amendment touches control of seafood quality and its safety for the consumer. At present such powers are exercised by the state federal services in charge of control of consumers' protection and veterinary and phytosanitary surveillance. If the same powers are delegated to the Federal Fisheries Agency as stipulated by the federal draft law, the country will see doubling of the powers by various federal executive bodies.

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