Overview of fisheries in the seas of the Russian Far East Basin in January 2008
Normally each year active fishery in the seas of the Russian Far East Basin starts from the Sea of Okhotsk. While in the first days of January 2007 the fishery was started by ca.90 vessels, in January 2008 the fishing efforts were three times smaller in number, industry sources in Vladivostok http://www.fishnet-russia.com/ (https://www.fishnet.ru/).
Provisional catch figures for the Russian Far East Basin in January 2008-2007
Catch, ‘000 metric tons
January 2008 versus
January 2007, +/- ‘000 metric tons
January 2006, +/- ‘000 metric tons
Longfin codling Laemonema
Reorganization of the fishery industry management (upgrade of the ex-Agency reporting to the Ministry of Agriculture to the stand-alone State Fisheries Committee) has caused the delay as the directive documents on allocating quotas to companies were issued only 10 days ahead of the start of the main fishing season of the year - the Alaska pollock expedition in the Sea of Okhotsk. Fishing vessels also had to stay idle on the grounds waiting for fishing permits due to lack of the inspectors to work onboard the vessels. Still, the measures which have been taken by the Government in the sphere of the fishery industry have been generally welcomed by the industry.
To prove the above, in January 2008 the Basin's total catches (according to provisional figures) decreased by 34,000 tonnes with the fishery and weather situation being fairly favourable in all the seas of the Russian Far East. At the same time, the Basin's harvest in January 2007 exceeded the corresponding result of 2006 by 66,000 tonnes as the fishery was organized in due time.
Thus, in January 2008 the fishing operations in the seas of Russian Far East Basin started from Alaska pollock targeted by 11 large and 2 middle trawlers and bottomfish species in the Bering Sea. In the Sea of Okhotsk 37 vessels, including 15 middle trawlers, started fishing Okhotsk herring. In the Kamchatka-Kurile subarea of the Sea of Okhotsk 11 trawlers began harvesting Alaska pollock. A group of 10 trawlers (2 of which large trawlers) owned by PBTF based near Vladivostok started harvesting Alaska pollock in the Northeast Sakhalin with the catch rates reported as fairly good. In the West Kamchatka 10 longliners were targeting cod. In the same subarea two trawlers were targeting halibuts. Severnye Kurily stood idle waiting for fishing permits.
By the middle of the month the daily catches grew to 5000 tonnes and the fishing efforts also increased to 160 in number, still down from 200 last year. In general, in January 2008 the average daily catch was 1000 tonnes down on last year and amounted to 4300 tonnes.
Catches in January 2008 broken down by zones and subareas
Number of vessels fishing on the grounds
Catches in %%
West Bering Sea zone
North Kurile zone
South Kurile zone
North Okhotsk subarea
West Kamchatka subarea
East Sakhalin subarea
West Sakhalin subarea
Bering Sea and subareas of East Kamchatka
In the Bering Sea and subareas of East Kamchatka seven large trawlers owned by Kamchatka-based Okeanrybflot were targeting Alaska pollock harvesting from 45 to 98 tonnes per vessel on the average. Catches were dominated by Alaska pollock of the size 47-56 cm. The average daily harvest of middle trawlers fluctuated within 30-60 tonnes. The fishery situation was reported as satisfactory. Two vessels were targeting cod and halibuts with longline gear with their total harvest through the month reported at 190 tonnes.
A large group of 65 middle vessels was conducting Danish seine fishery in the Petropavlovsk-Komandor subarea with the share of Alaska pollock accounting for ca.50%. Along with APO, the fishermen harvested flounders accounting for 14.2% of the harvest, cod (14.4%), Atka mackerel (18.6%), halibuts and sculpins. On the grounds of Atka mackerel Kamchatka-based STR middle trawlers daily harvested 30-50 tonnes per ship on the average. Two Kamchatka-based BATM large trawlers owned by OAO Okeanrybflot (plc) targeted Alaska pollock harvesting 2200 tonnes through the month with the bycatch containing Alaska pollock, halibut and skates. The total harvest in the subarea amounted to 6600 tonnes versus 10,600 tonnes in January 2007.
North and South Kuriles
The fishing efforts in the Kuriles waters got halved as compared to last year. Trawl fishery of grenadier was conducted by one Kamchatka-based vessel owned by ZAO Sudoverfryba (closed JSC) in the waters of the North and South Kuriles. The vessel moved from one concentration to another thus giving the stock time for concentrating. The ship's total harvest through the month amounted to 115 tonnes.
Cod was harvested both with trawl/Danish seine gear and with longline gear. Longline catches of cod amounted to 234 tonnes with the daily catches reported at 6.1 tonnes on the average. Trawl/Danish seine catches of cod amounted to only 20.5% with Alaska pollock having a dominating share of 42.5%, while the remaining share was contributed by flounder, Atka mackerel and sculpins.
Khabarovsk-based vessel BMRT large trawler Mys Lopatka and Vladivostok-based Orchik-2 were targeting Atka mackerel and squid in the waters of the North Kuriles. With the fishery conditions being fairly favourable, the Atka mackerel fishery was hampered by the weather conditions and the fishing time therefore accounted for only one third of all the time spent by the fishermen at sea. The above mentioned two vessels harvested 460 tonnes of Atka mackerel daily catching 31 and 12 tonnes correspondingly. Squid was harvested as bycatch with the species' total catch through the month amounted to 81 tonnes.
In the south of the Kurile Ridge a group of vessels based in the islands was hunting for sea urchins reporting a total harvest of 58.5 tonnes through the month.
Sea of Okhotsk
The fleet started fishing in the Sea of Okhotsk in the three subareas of the North Okhotsk, East Sakhalin and Kamchatka Kurile. In the first half of January 2008 the bulk of the fishing fleet (up to 50 in number) was targeting herring in the North Okhotsk subarea. The fishing situation was satisfactory and Vladivostok-based Kapitan Oleinichuk harvested up to 150 tonnes of herring per day on the average. The catch volumes of middle trawlers were also limited only by their processing capacity with the daily rates fluctuating from 25 to 70 tonnes per ship on the average. One of the group's leaders was Sedanka middle trawler harvesting 2800 tonnes of herring through the month. The total harvest of Okhotsk herring through the first fishing month amounted to 30,000 tonnes.
According to the new Fishery Regulations, the Alaska pollock fishery in all the three subareas of the Sea of Okhotsk is allowed as of 1 January 2008. The fleet started harvesting Alaska pollock in the East Sakhalin and Kamchatka-Kurile subareas. In the North Okhotsk subarea the fishermen were engaged mostly in herring fishery. Alaska pollock was harvested in the Lebed Hill and in the Priutaisky District. In the first days the fishing situation was non-stable as the vessels spent a lot of fishing time to spot for fishable concentrations.
The fleet of 9 middle trawlers, 2 BATM-class large trawlers and 2 motherships owned by PBTF based near Vladivostok started harvesting Alaska pollock in the East Sakhalin. Large vessels reported average daily catches of 100-104 tonnes per ship, while the catch rates of STR middle trawlers fluctuated within 10-40 tonnes per day. However, by the middle of the month the vessels had to leave the area because ice nearly completely covered the East Sakhalin shelf and the waters to the east of the Shantarsky Islands.
By the middle of the month the APO fishery was conducted by 30 large trawlers and 17 middle trawlers mostly in the Kamchatka-Kurile subarea at the depths of 400-500 meters. The fishery situation was reported as satisfactory. The fishermen harvested 40-56 tonnes of Alaska pollock per 4-hour tow. Their catches contained 82% of 35-40cm Alaska pollock and 15% of 41-44 cm APO. The roe yield was within 2.7%. The fleets started fishing from herring. However, due to the lack of the inspectors fishing vessels had to stay idle on the grounds for 3-4 days waiting for fishing permits.
According to the information coming from the scientists, in the recent years the abundance of the Alaska pollock stocks in the Shelikhov Bay has been considerably growing. Subject to favourable ice conditions the fishery in the area can be fairly efficient on the concentrations of larger pollock thus raising the efficiency of the fishing operations already in late January.
Therefore already in 20s of January the fleet was gradually moving to the West Kamchatka subarea. At the end of the month there were 50 fishing vessels already. Females accounted for 52% of the harvest and the shares of Alaska pollock of 35-40 cm and 41-45 cm correspondingly amounted to 67% and 26%. The roe yield amounted to 2.4-4%.
The Alaska pollock harvest in the Sea of Okhotsk amounted to 72,000 tonnes through the month. The total production of APO roe amounted to ca.1500 tonnes.
In January 2008 Kamchatka and Magadan-based vessels were targeting deepwater pink shrimp Pandalus borealis in the Priutaisky District of the North Okhotsk subarea where fairly large catch rates were reported. The catch rates per one hour tow amounted to ca.250 kilos with the bulk of the harvest contributed by large shrimps of 120-130 mm. In the Kamchatka-Kurile subarea the pink shrimp fishery was conducted by one Kamchatka-based vessel Aleksandrit. The fishery efficiency was somewhat lower with the average catch rates per vessel reported at 3.1 tonnes.
In the Sea of Okhotsk the fleets were also harvesting crabs, namely golden king crab, blue king crab and snow crab Bairdi. Two vessels were participating in golden king crab fishery in the North Okhotsk subarea and two vessels were targeting the species in the West Kamchatka subarea. As a result, the harvest of the species in 60 days at sea amounted to 190 tonnes. The average daily catches per vessel fluctuated from 754 kilos to 16.4 tonnes depending on the applied fishing gear.
The longliner fleet harvesting mixed concentrations of cod, halibuts and skates in the Sea of Okhotsk was larger in number with the efforts growing from 10 ships in the beginning of the month to 21 ships by the end of it. The West Kamchatka subarea was the main fishing area for longliners who harvested 1100 tonnes of cod there. Out of the total cod harvest in the Sea of Okhotsk 91.5% were contributed by longliners.
Middle and large trawlers were operating on the grounds to the south of the 54th degree North. The bulk of the harvest was contributed by Alaska pollock (84.5%), while the remaining share was made by flounder (7.9%), cod (2.8%), wachna cod (3.6%) and sculpins (1.2%). Those species were harvested by 4-5 vessels.
In East Sakhalin the Terpeniya Bay is the most important area for the wachna cod winter fishery based on prespawning and spawning concentrations. Stable concentrations of the species harvested by small boats normally form in early January. In the first month of the current year 2008 the wachna cod fishery was started by 25 MRS small seiners owned by the companies based in the islands. Those seiners spent 135 days at sea all together and harvested 3230 tonnes of the species through the period (based on average daily rates of 24.2 tonnes per vessel). The total harvest of wachna cod in the subarea in January 2008 amounted to 5100 tonnes.
Sea of Japan
The January harvest in the Sea of Japan amounted to only 1.1% of the total harvest in the Russian Far East Basin. The main species in that period of the year is pink shrimp with the bycatch of coonstripe shrimp and shrimp Pandalopsis multidentatus. In January 2008 pink shrimp was targeted by 15 shrimpers. The weather conditions enabled the fishermen to conduct trap and trawl fishery of shrimps. Trawlers reported the average daily rates of 1.1-4.1 tonnes per ship, while the vessels working with trap gear harvested from 0.5 to 0.9 tonne each per day on the average.
Red snow crab was the only species targeted in the south part of the Primorye subarea. For a number of years running the fishery of the species had been conducted by Vladivostok-based R/K Vostok-1. Four crabbers owned by the company harvested 450 tonnes through the month.
To the north of the 46th degree North the vessels owned by the same company were harvesting cod with longline gear. The average daily catches per vessel were reported at 1.1-1.8 tonnes.
Along with the above, trawlers owned by coastal companies harvested flounder (193 tonnes), sculpins (2 tonnes), Atka mackerel (141 tonnes), cod (3.2 tonnes) in the waters of Primorye.