Promising future for Russia and Japan in fishery and seafood trade

December 7, 2007 16:32

Along with introducing a number of reforms in the national fishery industry, Russia's State Fisheries Committee has been also thinking of strengthening business relations with other fishing countries. For instance, Russia has got fishery agreements and longterm positive experience of international cooperation with Japan, the Committee's head Andrey Krainy told Kiodo-Cusin (Japan's large information agency).

At present Russia and Japan have got four fishery agreements making a legislative basis for the mutually beneficial and profitable cooperation. At the same time, there are prospects to improve and develop the intergovernmental legal regulation.

According to Russia's fishery head Andrey Krainy, when realizing the intergovernmental agreements and defining the catch quotas of the foreign countries under those agreements Russia's main fishery industry body will be guided by the condition of the marine biological resources and the volume of the compensation to be paid. The Committee will take into account the principle of reciprocity, evaluate the level of fishery cooperation with interested countries, compliance of the foreign fishery with the Russian fishery regulations, cooperation in the sphere of fighting against poaching and seafood smuggling and the efficiency of measures taken by the Russian partners in order to bar poachers and smugglers to their ports.

More specifically, Andrey Krainy says that the mutual interests of the both countries lie in strengthening control of seafood supplies from the Russian vessels to the Japanese ports. The Russian fishery officials just like their Japanese colleagues are willing to expand their cooperation in joining forces against Russian poaching as well as poaching of vessels operating under the flags of the third countries.

Building of new modern fish processing plants in Russia based on the state-of-the-art Japanese technologies, supplies of Russian seafood to the Japanese market and trade cooperation on the markets of the Asian-Pacific countries also bring mutually beneficial prospects for Russia and Japan, Andrey Krainy added up.

Those steps, which have already been made in the relationship of the two countries, have been considered by the Russian side as satisfactory. Active information exchange between the departments of the main fishery industry bodies of the both countries, which has been pushed by the agreements during the summit in Sydney, opens a broad way for improving fishery cooperation between Russia and Japan.

Crab fishery

The idea to prohibit commercial operations on the crab grounds in the Russian Far East has inevitably caused concern of importers of Russian crabs (China, South Korea, the USA and Japan namely). However, the Russian scientists have been pressing on the crab fishery ban due to the stock's strong depletion caused by overfishing.

The official statistics of the above mentioned importer countries shows that Russia's crab TAC has been exceeded three times and the officially reported harvest have been five times down on the actual figures. A special concern has been caused by the strongly overfished red and blue king crabs (catches of which exceed the allowed figures 7-8 times). The Russian fishery industry authorities think that poaching and illegal fishing have been fueled by the market demand from those countries and the international cooperation should therefore aim at fighting admission of poachers onto those markets.

Actually, the potential negative consequences of commercial red king crab fishery in the West Kamchatka subarea have caused a concern not only of the State Fisheries Committee, but also of the governors of the regions of the Russian Far East Basin, fishermen and scientists recommending a temporary halt in the commercial operations for a period of 5 years and even more. The industrials understand that the crab stock has to rest for some time otherwise the nation risks to lose the crab stock forever. That is why, the State Ecological Expertise has recommended to allocate all the red king crab TAC 2008 in the West Kamchatka and in the Kamchatka Kurile subarea exclusively for research and scientific purposes.

Thus, in the near future the recommended commercial fishery ban will be introduced, Krainy said. Legal export of live crab to Japan is possible subject to compliance with the current legislation of the both countries in the sphere of customs as well as subject to joint measures against poaching.

Poaching

As for fighting against poaching, Russia has proposed a number of joint measures aimed at changing the procedure of clearing the Russian vessels on the basis of the freight customs declarations. The two countries could also conduct mutual consultations of the inspection bodies as to exchange their experience in clearing the vessels landing seafood from Russia to Japan.

Following the NEAFC example, the Russian side thinks it suitable to introduce the system of port control. Presence of the Russian observers in the Japanese ports handling the seafood landings from the Russian vessels and vessels under the flags of convenience will probably be interesting for the Japanese side, Andrey Krainy surmised.

Actually, the anti-poaching cooperation between Russia and Japan is finally aimed at an intergovernmental agreement on fighting the IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishery.

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