Ministry of Agriculture tells foreign firms to invest into Russian onshore processing

August 30, 2007 16:13

Russia's Ministry of Agriculture has proposed to make regulatory restrictions for access of the Russian companies with foreign capital stake to fishery of the nation's aquatic biological resources, according to the ministry's deputy head Vladimir Izmailov quoted by ITAR-TASS. The restrictions would also apply to resource users who have no own fishing vessels. On the other hand, the ministry has sent a clear signal that it will be encouraging foreign companies to invest into Russia's land-based fish processing sector.

Making the statement of the forthcoming restrictions, Izmailov has emphasized that the goal of the legislation would be to completely eliminate the risk of Russia's loss of bioresource sovereignty. (For instance, according to the official spokesman of the Russian Federal Fisheries Agency, Hong Kong-based company Pacific Andes which has received 800 million USD from the Chinese government in order to purchase the shares of Russian fishing companies now controls nearly one half of the Russian Alaska pollock turnover. However, it is widely practiced in the world that governments do not allow foreign companies to receive catch quotas thus preventing them exploiting the nation's stocks, the spokesman pointed out.)

At the same time, taking into account tighter regulation of fishery in the World Ocean, the Russian government should work harder to facilitate access of the Russian fishermen to the open waters and to the fishing grounds regulated under the international agreements.

Along with the above, Izmailov has suggested reducing the list of aquatic biological resources on quota and TAC.

Deputy Minister has noted that the system is a special hindrance to exploitation of the big potential of Russia's Pacific salmon stocks.

He has also said that at present underexploitation of such resources as saury, polar cod Boreogadus saida, squid, etc. in the Russian EEZ amounts to ca.1.5 million metric tons.

The newly appointed head of Russia's Federal Fishery Agency Andrey Krainiy has taken sides with his boss and has gone further urging the government to ban exportation of the catch and products made in the EEZ without clearing the goods at Russia's customs. The above can be achieved by means of passing a law about mandatory shipment of fish harvested on the nation's continental shelf and in the EEZ to home ports for clearance prior to export.

In the short-term outlook the Federal Fishery Agency is working for the following developments in the nation's fishery industry:

  1. Reduction of the number of quota-regulated aquatic resources versus the currently practiced system when the majority of resources are regulated by quotas. According to the agency, the quota system should be cancelled for most of the resources. For some 5-7 species which are supposed to remain quota-regulated the agency suggests banning allocation of the quotas to entities with a foreign capital stake;
  2. Switch to allocating quotas not to companies, but to fishing vessels depending on their fishing capacities;
  3. Establishment of 100%-government-owned OAO Rosrybflot (plc) for construction of fishing vessels for further exploitation of Russia's fishing rights in the World Ocean;
  4. Organization of four fish exchanges;
  5. Revival of Russia's Ministry of Fisheries;
  6. Doubling the industry's gross product and catches to 6.5 million metric tons along with a four-fold increase of aquaculture output to 400,000 metric tons by the year 2015;
  7. Ban of exportation of seafood harvested in the Russian EEZ directly to the fish ports of Japan, China, South Korea, North Europe and other countries without clearing the goods at the Russian customs.
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