Fishermen of the Russian Far East gearing up to overthrow "Chinese Rule"

February 10, 2021 09:27

The fishermen of the Russian Far East do not see quick prospects for resolving the problems of pollock products delivery to China and, together with the government, are looking for ways to strategically re-develop the industry in order to exclude a repetition of the situation, reports

On February 9, in Vladivostok, under the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister - Presidential Plenipotentiary representative for the Far East Trutnev, a meeting was held for everyone involved in catching, processing, storing, and transporting the catch.  Participants raised different problems, and the general idea of the meeting was "the Chinese do what they want and do not give reasonable explanations for their actions." The meeting turned out to be unable to find a quick solution to the problems encountered.

  • The Russian authorities appeals to the Chinese side regarding Russian fish products supply have so far remained largely unanswered, said Yuri Trutnev.  In fact, the claim of the Chinese authorities has long been known, it is presence of the virus traces on the packaging. Russian (and not only) virologists deny the possibility of such a long survival of the virus in the cold, however Chinese (and Korean) doctors regularly find those who allegedly became infected in this way. Expecting the Chinese to admit they are wrong is at least naive.  In addition, February 12 is the New Year according to the lunar calendar, the country becomes relaxed for at least a fortnight, and official bodies and banks do not work from 11 to 17 inclusive.
  • As a rescue measure, it was once again proposed to supply products to new markets or to temporary storage in countries other than China and Korea. To facilitate this, Pollock Catchers Association suggested Rosselkhoznadzor to consider the possibility of issuing health certificates for consignments of several containers at once. The RSHN representative did not object at the idea level but noted that this initiative should be coordinated with the authorities of the destination countries.
  • The rest of the discussion related to the more distant future, first of all - measures for the development of Russian onshore fish processing. It is necessary to strive not to be completely dependent on the foreign side, stressed the Deputy Prime Minister. It is necessary to develop processing in Russia, supplying products to foreign markets
  • The final protocol of the meeting included the task of working out the "Fish interventions". Currently the purchase of 100 - 120 thousand tons of pollock is being discussed, but other fish, for example, blue whiting or iwashi, will possibly be included into the scheme later on. At the same time, a strange statement was made that if the mechanism of fish interventions is not ready soon (and such things are usually not done in a couple of weeks) and the pollock catch in the current fishing season will have to be reduced, then this is still good, since it would give fishermen hope for that in the next season they will catch up. This means that hope will offset financial losses.
  • A set of support measures should be developed within a week so that fish processing plants can be built in Russia as soon as possible. These measures should allow in one and a half - maximum two years to completely cover the need for processing in the Far East. It was said that to compensate Chinese processing fully, processing capability of 180 tons APO HG per year required. Why 180, and not a million traditionally exported to China annually, was not announced. Considering approvals complexity, it is highly likely that the document is actually going through the last stages before signing.
  • The new onshore plants construction will be a part of investment quotas program. It was not said whether this would trigger an additional takeover of quotas. Nobody voiced negative about this, but there was some skepticism on the part of some factory owners regarding the efficiency of onshore plants.
  • Aleksey Osintsev, the head of the Fishing Fleet Shipowners Association, which unites only the RFC group of companies so far, declared the need to develop onboard processing of more valuable single frozen products, saying that coastal factories are less efficient because of the need to defrost and freeze again.
  • The head of Dobroflot, Alexander Efremov, asked to facilitate the attraction of foreign labor, which provoked the anger of Yuri Trutnev, who earlier advocated the provision of preferences to companies that attract Russian citizens, and the so-called “Trutnev excise” must be paid for foreign labor.  Meanwhile, there is already labor shortage at the onshore plants, and who, if not Efremov, who is operating such a plant, understands this better than others.
  • As known, in January, All-Russia Association of Fishery Enterprises, Entrepreneurs and Exporters (VARPE) sent its vision of the industry development to the President Assistant Maxim Oreshkin. The document said that the main task of the VARPE members is coastal processing development and small and medium-sized fleet construction. "Investment quotas should work for the socio-economic development of coastal regions, and not for increasing the capitalization of individual fishing companies." In fact, this does not apply to the RFC and Dobroflot factories, which are located thousands of kilometers from the main fishing grounds. Kamchatka - Sakhalin - Kuril factories problems were not raised at the meeting.

No sooner had the meeting on the difficulties with the export of Russian fish to China ended, when the need to hold a meeting on the difficulties with delivery to South Korea was ripe. Now a ship discharge time in Busan can exceed a month due to stevedore labor shortage. The cold storages are full.

However, both Korean and Chinese sources insist that after February 17, things will work out in both Korea and Qingdao / Dalian ports.  If this is true, it will turn out that the Russian fishermen have been shown who actually manages the fishery in the Russian Far East.

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