Russians saving pollock fishery's A season from looming COVID-linked logistics collapse

January 15, 2021 14:57

Russia’s Federal Fishery Agency has conducted a video conference on the sale and export of Russian fish products from pollock A season in the Russian Far East in connection with restrictive measures introduced by the People's Republic of China to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Apart from ways to comply with the Chinese requirements, the conference has worked out measures to diversify shipments geographically and in terms of processing destinations, reports

At the meeting led by the deputy head of the Federal Fishery Agency Peter Savchuk, both officials and fishermen tried to find ways out of the current difficult situation.  The following aspects were discussed

  • The need to ensure the health of crew members. This is a big topic that includes
    • Comprehensive monitoring of seamen health using both PCR and blood antibody tests. These are Chinese and Korean authorities’ requirements to the sailors of ships calling their ports.  It is quite a challenge to do this at sea.
    • Vaccination of crews at sea and preparing to sail. The difficulties associated with preliminary health screening of the vaccinated are obvious.
    • The need for strict isolation of seafarers preparing to embark on a voyage. Today, observation is sometimes carried out in hotels, which is why it happens that sailors get sick just during this kind of isolation, and the ships departure is seriously delayed
  • Small likelihood of opening Chinese ports and cold storages before the end of February, when half of the season will be over.  At the same time, there is no free capacity in Korea already, and the situation is even worse in the coastal regions of Russia.  There is some hope for Japan and the countries of Southeast Asia, though.
  • The need to fully utilize trawlers fillet capacity.  Pollock catchers’ Association President Alexey Buglak promised that fillet production would reach 50-70 thousand tons for A-season.  This is a serious increase over the same period in 2020, when a little more than 40 thousand tons were produced.  This will reduce the volume of APO HG by 40-120 thousand tons.
  • The need for fully utilize onshore plants capacity, especially of those built in exchange for extra pollock quotas.  The instruction was set to produce at least 120 thousand tons of fillets, thus reducing supplies to China by another 340 thousand tons. (Onshore production yields are significantly higher than marine production).
  • President of VARPE German Zverev suggested to work out with government agencies ways to increase pollock products procurement for the domestic market, particularly for the needs of schools and military. As the state has helped grain producers and domestic tourism, it can and should help the fishing industry. The same should be asked from regional governments.

As always, German Zverev was bright. Veterinary Representatives and the railway managers demonstrated their complete readiness to help the fishermen in all the ways they could. Unfortunately, the largest fishing companies remained silent at this event, apart from the chairman of the Lenin Kolkhoz Sergey Tarusov and the head of Dobroflot Alexander Efremov.  It should be noted that representatives of business and government actively demonstrated their desire to find new opportunities in the emerging crisis.

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