Russia and China bargaining over market access versus pollock quotas

August 18, 2021 00:22

Russia and China are discussing access for Russian trampers to Chinese ports in apparent conjunction with the Russian offer for the Chinese to buy pollock fishing quotas, reports

According to, quoting a representative of the Federal Agency for Fisheries (FAF), the issue of granting Chinese fishing vessels the right to fish in the Russian EEZ on a paid basis has been discussed at the annual sessions of the joint Russian-Chinese commission for cooperation in the field of fisheries, The last, 29th meeting of the commission was held in 2020, this year there was no meeting yet.

FAF, as its representative explains, asked to include in the agenda of the 30th session of the commission the issue of the supply of Russian fish, including pollock, to China, but the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China replied that the settlement of the situation with the export of Russian fish is not within its competence and cannot be resolved within the commission. Accordingly, negotiations were not held in 2021, the representative clarified.

Fishing is a strategic industry in Russia, so the government restricts the presence of foreigners in the sector. According to the law, a foreigner who wants to get a share in a Russian fishing company must receive the approval of the government’s legal commission for the control of foreign investment.

Previously, those transactions were subject to approval, in which a foreign investor obtained control over a Russian fishing company, that is, he became the owner of a share of 50% or more in the authorized capital. In July 2021, amendments were adopted reducing the threshold from 50 to 25%.

At the same time, Russia provides other states with quotas for fishing in its exclusive economic zone on a paid basis. The procedure for allocating quotas is established by a government decree. For example, South Korea has quotas for catching pollock. In 2021, its fishermen can harvest 28.4 thousand tons of pollock in Russian waters subject to a fee of $375 per ton.

Meanwhile, according to President of the VARPE Association German Zverev, quoted by RBC, China can be using the closure of its ports to Russian trampers as an instrument of pressure. According to another source in the fishing industry, China turned down a regular offer to buy a quota for catching 20 thousand tons of pollock because allegedly it wants to get 100 thousand tons for free instead of 20 thousand tons for money.

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