Overview of fisheries in the seas of the Russian Far East in May 2008
In the recent four years the total harvest in the seas of the Russian Far East Basin in May has been displaying a negative trend. More specifically, in 2005 the Basin's harvest through the month amounted to 106,000 tonnes, in the following years the harvest went down by 7000, 9000 and 5000 tonnes on the previous year, fishery sources in Vladivostok told http://www.fishnet-russia.com/ (https://www.fishnet.ru/).
In May 2008 the Russian fishermen harvested 85,000 tonnes of finfish and other aquatic species in the seas of the Basin, down from 90,000 tonnes in the same month of 2007. In May 2008 small boats joined the fishermen on the grounds to target bottomfish, pelagic species and marine invertebrates with trawl and Danish seine gear. Every day there were from 280 to 380 ships operating on the grounds. The average daily harvest of aquatic biological species in the Basin amounted to 2300 tonnes and as compared to last year the daily harvest of such species as Alaska pollock, cod, herring, Atka mackerel, longfin codling Laemonema, sculpins, skates and shrimps showed a declining trend.
Though the bulk of the harvest was contributed by Alaska pollock, the share of the species amounted to only 34.6% of the daily catch and 12% was contributed by flounder, 8% by squid, 8% by crabs and 6-7% by cod and Atka mackerel.
Provisional catch figures for the Russian Far East Basin in January-May 2007-2008
Catches in May, ‘000 metric tons
Catches in January-May, ‘000 metric tons
2008 versus 2007, +/-
2008 versus 2007, +/-
Of which finfish species
Longfin codling Laemonema
The catch rates in the first 20 days of the month were ahead of the corresponding results of 2007. However, the vessels' slow switch to the APO fishery in the West Bering Sea zone, a ban for trawl fishery of prespawning and roe herring as of 10 April 2008, delays in the fishery of roe herring due to heavy ice on the grounds, insufficient fishing efforts, partial withdrawal of vessels from the grounds and worsening fishery situation told on the total results of the fleet's operations in May 2008. As compared to the same month of 2007, the Basin's harvest decreased by 5000 tonnes. The harvest of herring, longfin codling, Atka mackerel and cod went down. At the same time, the fishermen harvested more squid and crab thanks to more favourable fishery conditions. Small increases were recorded for flounder, Alaska pollock, grenadier and wachna cod.
Since the start of the year to May 2008 inclusive the total harvest in the seas of the Russian Far East exceeded the corresponding result of 2007 by 79,400 tonnes, though the catch in May 2008 somewhat decreased the gap in the catch rates. The fishermen reported increases only for Alaska pollock (+96,000 tonnes), cod (+3700 tonnes) and invertebrates. The APO roe output amounted to 24,900 tonnes in January-May 2008, while through the twelve months of 2007 the total output of the Alaska pollock roe was reported at 21,500 tonnes.
Dedicated Alaska pollock fishery in the East Sakhalin subarea was continued by a group of 8 large vessels and 8 middle ships which started the fishery in the area already in April with the closure of the North Okhotsk subarea according to the Fishery Regulations. Already by the end of the first ten days of the month, STR middle trawlers stopped fishing and only two out of large trawlers kept fishing until the end of the month. The catch rates per tow amounted to 27.3 tonnes per large vessel and 11 tonnes per middle vessel on the average and the daily catches per ship were reported at 73.6 tonnes and 28.8 tonnes correspondingly.
The total harvest of Alaska pollock in the waters of East Sakhalin amounted to 29,000 tonnes.
According to the Fishery Regulations, from 16 May 2008 four large trawlers started the dedicated fishery of Alaska pollock in the Bering Sea.
By the end of the month the fishing efforts grew to 15 in number. The largest catches per effort in the West Bering Sea zone are typical for the winter months, while in May the rates normally go down, as in that period of the year the fishery is based on Alaska pollock remaining in the Navarin area for wintering and spawning. In 2007 the catches amounted to a little more than 50 tonnes per vessel daily. The year 2008 was no exception of the above rule with the catch rates per tow recorded at only 20.7 tonnes on the average. The reason behind that was in cold weather in winter which appeared to be even colder than in the previous years. Since the start of the year take-up of the APO quotas in the West Bering Sea zone amounted to 3.3%.
The APO fishery in the North Kurile waters was non-stable with the daily rates fluctuating from 40 to 87 tonnes. The fishing operations were impeded by frequent storms.
The total harvest of Alaska pollock in the seas of the Russian Far East amounted to 32,000 tonnes, including bycatch from long line and Danish seine operations on the grounds of bottomfish and pelagic species. Since the start of the year the APO TAC was covered at 47.8%.
Dynamics of wholesale prices of headed Alaska pollock in Vladivostok, Khabarovsk and Kamchatka
Primorsky Krai Territory (capital Vladivostok)
Khabarovsky Krai Territory
2006, RUB per kilo
2007, RUB per kilo
2006, RUB per kilo
2007, RUB per kilo
2006, RUB per kilo
2007, RUB per kilo
Cod and halibut
Expedition fishery of cod and halibut was conducted in the West Bering Sea zone, East Kamchatka and in three subareas of the Sea of Okhotsk with long line gear. In the Sea of Okhotsk the fishery efficiency was lower, though catches contained 50-60% of halibut. The daily catches amounted to 58 tonnes through the month on the average with the share of halibut reaching 55.8%. The fishing efforts fluctuated from 15 to 26 lonliners. One ship handled 23 km of line per day on the average with the catch rates reported at 3.1 tonnes based on 136.5 kilos of fish per 1 km of line. From the opposite side of the Kamchatka peninsula the number of longliners operating on the grounds did not exceed 15. The vessels were working in the territorial waters and beyond them, in the EEZ. Their catches contained mostly cod. While in the beginning of the month the fishermen harvested 140-160 tonnes per 1 km of line, by the end of the month the fishery conditions grew better and the vessels handled 310 km of line per day on the average. The expedition's total harvest amounted to 82.5 tonnes with the share of halibut amounting to 15.1%. Catches per 1 km of long line exceeded the corresponding result in the Sea of Okhotsk nearly twice and amounted to ca.266 kilos on the average. The Basin's longline cod harvest through the month amounted to 1800 tonnes.
A small local group of 3-4 middle trawlers targeting halibut with bottom nets daily handled from 18 to 25 km of line. Their total harvest through the month amounted to 250 tonnes with up to 93% of halibut.
With the closure of the APO expedition in the North Okhotsk subarea on 10 April 2008, the Fishery Regulations also banned trawl fishery of prespawning and roe herring. The TAC of 20,000 tonnes of Okhotsk spawning herring was harvested in the 12-mile inshore zone with beach and fixed seines. According to the scientific forecasts, abundant runs of Okhotsk herring to the spawning grounds were expected to start in the middle of the month. However, the ice conditions in the Sea of Okhotsk delayed the start of the abundant runs. RS Briakan seiner operating in the waters of Evensk reported the first catch only on 20 May 2008. As for the fixed gear, only one seine was set. The daily harvest in the area was reported at 45-60 tonnes and was restrained by the absence of the receiving capacities. In the meantime, in the Okhotsk area the vessels were staying idle waiting to receive the raw fish as the ice fields prevented them from setting the seines. Only by 27 May 2008 the fishermen harvested 573 tonnes of herring from 6 seines. Roe herring was harvested by 1 mothership and 4 vessels working as receiving reefers.
The total harvest of roe herring in May 2008 accounted for 25% of the TAC. For comparison, last year in May the roe herring TAC was covered at 60%.
Bottom fish and pelagic species
In May 2008 the Russian fishermen were targeting bottom and pelagic fish (flounder, halibut, sculpins, Alaska pollock, Atka mackerel and grenadier) with trawl and Danish seine gear.
Starting from the second half of May a Danish seine expedition unrolled in the Bering Sea and in the waters of East Kamchatka. The number of fishing vessels tripled and the fishery was also conducted by seiners. The average fishing efforts in the course of the month reached 30 ships with the expedition's daily harvest reported at 320 tonnes. The catch rates per vessel and per tow correspondingly made 11.2 and 4.7 tonnes. The share of cod fluctuated from 7% to 14% depending on the fishing area. The bulk of the harvest was contributed by flounder in the Karaginsk subarea (57%) and in the West Bering Sea zone (73.5%), while 19-22% was contributed by Alaska pollock.
In the waters of the North Kuriles three trawlers were targeting cod from the Pacific side of the islands. They reported the catch rates of 8.8 tonnes per day each, though a considerable share of the harvest was contributed by Alaska pollock (48.5%), cod (27%) and Atka mackerel (20.5%). Besides, the fishermen also harvested flounder, sculpins and other species.
In the Sea of Okhotsk on the shelf of the southwest coast of Kamchatka 14-20 trawlers were targeting bottomfish species for human consumption. Their daily catches per one ship amounted to 12.6 tonnes based on 6.1 tonnes per tow.
The shares of cod, flounder and Alaska pollock were close to 30%, while the remaining share of the harvest was contributed by smelt, sculpins and wachna cod.
Catches of bottom and pelagic fish species in January-May 2008
Catches of bottom and pelagic fish species in January-May 2008, 1000 metric tons
West Bering Sea and East Kamchatka
North and South Kuriles
Sea of Okhotsk
Just like in the previous months, in May 2008 crabber expedition uniting the vessels of all the regions of the basin had a success in the Sea of Okhotsk. More than 26,000 traps were processed daily with the total harvest per day reported at up to 136 tonnes of crabs. In the North Okhotsk subarea snow crab opilio and golden king crab were harvested at 6.4 and 4.5 kilos per trap on the average. On the grounds of snow crab bairdi and blue king crab on the Kamchatka shelf the catch rates per trap were reported at 2.1-2.2 kilos.
For commercial and scientific purposes the vessels based in Kamchatka and Vladivostok were harvesting quotas of the same crab species in the West Bering Sea zone and in the Karaginsk subarea. The crab catches in the area amounted to a little more than 170 tonnes.
The whelk fishery in the North Okhotsk subarea was conducted by 5 ships reporting a total harvest of 350 tonnes of the species through the month.
Shrimpers were operating mostly in the North Okhotsk subarea. Already in the end of the second ten days of the month worsening fishery conditions made the last vessel leave the Kamchatka Kurile subarea where the catch rates per tow fell to 130 kilos. In the North Okhotsk subarea an outbreak of catch rates to 400-700 kilos per tow was observed on 10-20 May fading to 280-310 kilos by the end of the month. The total harvest of shrimp through the month amounted to 430 tonnes versus 740 tonnes in 2007.
In the waters of the North Kuriles vessels owned by 8 companies of the Basin were targeting squid and Atka mackerel. A lot of the vessels were engaged in harvesting Atka mackerel. In the first half of the month the fleets found fishable concentrations of squid. By the end of the month the fishing efforts grew to 15 in number and their catches contained 80% of squid on the average. The total harvest of squid through the month was recorded at 6000 tonnes.
In May 2008 the fishermen started harvesting salmons with drift nets under the research program. Drift nets were set on the ways of salmon's migration in the West Bering Sea zone, the Petropavlovsk Komandor subarea and from the Pacific side of the North Kuriles with the fishing efforts reported at 11-13 vessels. The catches were dominated by sockeye (80.3%) with the remaining share contributed by chum salmon and partly chinook.