Lower House passed amendments to Law on Fishery in first reading. Full story.

September 26, 2007 15:40

The State Duma of the Russian Federation has passed amendments to the Federal Law on Fishery and Conservation of Aquatic Biological Resources in the first reading, according to RIA Novosti.

The amendments, in particular, would make it possible to put up the capture quota share as collateral.

Besides, inshore fishery quotas will be distributed for a period of at least ten years. The approved amendments also include a stipulation that quota share can contractually be transferred to another owner.

According to the draft amendments, research quotas should be transferred into commercial quotas.

Commercial fishery can be conducted only by Russian-flagged fishing vessels equipped with technical means of control to secure continuous information transfer about vessel's position.

Peculiarities of landing of raw fish and processing fish harvested in the inshore waters and rules of their sales on commodity exchanges shall be approved by the acts of the RF Government.

Critics say...

The above amendments approved by the State Duma in the first reading have come under fire from critics of the draft, according to Russian Gazeta.

In particular, head of the Federation Council Committee on Agrarian-Food Policy Gennady Gorbunov thinks that the draft law neither improves the current situation in the fishery industry, nor takes account of the province's opinions nor gives answers to many questions voiced at a recent meeting of the State Council Presidium in Astrakhan.

Andrey Loginov, representing the Government in the State Duma, has seconded a proposal to establish a working group to revise the draft law. The group is supposed to include representatives of legislative and executive power. Senator Gorbunov assumes that the commission's activities can result in return of the draft law for another first reading as some of its provisions are "conceptually unacceptable".

More specifically, the document revives the system of quota sales via auctions. Gennady Gorbunov says that such practice in 2000-2003 has revealed that the quotas are purchased first of all by entities linked with foreign capital thus conflicting with President's Message to the Federal Council.

Alaska pollock fishery in the Russian Far East is a good example of the current situation. Some vessels with the APO quotas will go to the grounds and harvest as much as they can. Some of the harvest is kept onboard, while some of it, after gutting and roe extraction, is discarded overboard. The APO roes cost nearly five times more than Alaska pollock itself, therefore it is more profitable to transport it by sea.

When checked by the inspectors such harvesters always have the amount of fish equal to their quotas and a great lot of roes. It is quite obvious that the APO roes cannot account for 30% of the fish weight (scientists say it can account for no more than 4% on the average). However, it is difficult to deal with such violations due to a hole in the legislation and the government should produce laws linking the APO biology and the fishery economy.

Changes in the fishery legislation are urgently needed not only because the fish stocks have been growing less abundant. There is another reason. The year 2008 is the termination year for the quota contracts under which the fishing companies have had five-year quota shares. It is more efficient to extend those contracts or sign new contracts after changing the legislation rather than prior to it. Establishment of the working group is supposed to draft the necessary legislation in accordance with President's guidelines. Already this autumn the legislative base should be improved to the benefit of the fishermen, consumers, the government and the health of the fish stocks, concluded Senator.

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