Russia’s coastal processors capable of producing one million MT of Alaska pollock per year

April 19, 2023 10:20

The coastal facilities in the Russian Far East can process up to one million metric tons of Alaska pollock. In particular, the Kuril Islands show a great processing potential, according to the nation’s Federal Agency for Fisheries (Rosrybolovstvo).

The above issues were on the agenda of the recent conference "Scientific foundations of the "New cod industry" project in the Far East. The conference was held on April 12 in Vladivostok and chaired by the deputy head of Rosrybolovstvo Vasily Sokolov.

In 2022 Russian fleets reported a record catch of 1.9 million tons of Alaska pollock. The TAC for 2023 exceeds 2 million tons. There are two factories operating in the northern Kuril Islands: JSC SC BSF holding a total quota of about 40 thousand tons and LLC Alaid with a quota of ca.10 thousand tons. On the Iturup Island (central Kuril Islands) there are plants of CJSC Kurilsky Rybak in two main locations — Olya Bay and Kitovaya Bay (the Yasny plant). The plants’ total capacity is more than 1 thousand MT per day. At present one plant is under refurbishment which is aimed to raise its processing capacity.

On the southern Kuril Islands there are plants belonging to the branch of Kurilsky Rybak (Shikotan Island) and JSC Yuzhno-Kurilsky Fish Processing Plant (Kunashir Island), they can process more than 1 thousand tons per day each. These enterprises are also being modernized to increase the volume of processed raw materials and, accordingly, the output of products with high added value. In total, the plants have produced more than 200 thousand tons of products from various fish species (mostly Alaska pollock).

Coastal plants have a number of advantages as compared to other types and methods of processing in conjunction with the development of fishing by vessels equipped with refrigerated seawater tanks (RSW). Historically, there have been two main types of pollock fishery — trawl and Danish seine.

Factory trawlers harvest APO and process catches onboard. For comparison, mainly medium-tonnage vessels equipped with Danish seines normally deliver catches to onshore processing plants.

In recent years, a new type of Alaska pollock fishery has been actively developed – with vessels equipped with refrigerated seawater tanks (RSW). This type of fishing is a mixture of trawling and processing, since the extraction is carried out by trawls, and the catch is delivered to coastal plants.

The greatest development of that type of fishery was in the South Kuril fishing zone, where in 2022 more than 100 thousand tons of pollock were delivered by RSW vessels for processing. The incentive for the use of such vessels was just the active growth of onshore processing on the Kuril Islands. In this regard, the strategy for the fishing fleet development has turned towards RSW vessels. Currently, 8 vessels with a one-time capacity of 8 thousand tons of refrigerated holds are based in the Southern Kuriles.

RSW vessels in the pollock fishery in the South Kuril zone have been used since 2016. With the increase in their number, the APO catches grew annually, reaching 112 thousand tons in 2022.

In recent years, there has been a trend of expansion of RSW vessels to nearby fishing areas, primarily to the North Kuril zone and the East Sakhalin subzone. Nevertheless, the main pollock area remains the waters of the southern Kuril Islands, where RSW vessels cover about 70% of pollock TAC.

When using RSW vessels, the catch from the trawl bag is not lifted onto the fishing deck: the fish directly enters the cooled tanks, so sorting of the catch and emissions of substandard fish are excluded. Fish is therefore counted directly at the onshore plant without the possibility of its sorting and emissions.

Among the advantages of such a tandem of onshore processing and fishing is 100% control of the catch and 100% of its onshore processing.

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