Russia to spend billions on aquaculture development

July 3, 2008 15:40

The strategy of aquaculture development in the Russian Federation for the period of up to the year 2020 is aimed to increase the volumes of aquaculture production up to 410-420 thousand tonnes. The plan proceeds from the projection that the Russian market for fish products over the next 3-4 years is estimated to grow to a volume of 4.5-5 million tonnes, according to a report of Russian Federal Centre of Fish Genetics and Selection ( published in Eurofish magazine.

The development of aquaculture is being encouraged by the Russian government. A government order aimed at developing the nation's freshwater aquaculture industry will provide important financial support to the aquaculture sector (approximately 1 billion USD for the period 2007-2012).

The aquaculture sector in Russia faces many challenges. Additional private investments necessary for the development of the industry in the period 2007-2012 are estimated at about 1.85 billion USD. As in Europe it often suffers from prices instability. In some regions aquaculture in Russia plays an important socio-economic role (as in Galicia in Spain or Brittany in France). Priorities include keeping the sector economically viable, guaranteeing food safety and animal welfare, solving environmental problems and stimulating research.

Russia has considerable knowledge and experience in fish ranching in various types of water bodies. The reproduction of valuable fish species and further release into the natural environment has been practiced for many years. This experience, the efficient use of new technologies and a sufficient volume of investments is expected to lead in several years to a huge increase in Russia's aquaculture production.

Perspectives for aquaculture in Russia

Aquaculture is the fastest developing sector of the global food industry with an annual rate of growth of more than 10%. Aquaculture production in Russia has been growing over the last years at a rate of 5%. Russian aquaculture production reached almost 105,700 metric tons in 2007. The majority of the output is represented by whitefish, trout, carp, and sturgeon. A new trend in the sector is scallop aquaculture.

The total production of trout in Russia doubled from 3200 tonnes in 1999 to 12,600 tonnes in 2007. Trout farming has been developing rapidly in the Republic of Karelia and in the Black Sea basin. Over the next five years the production volume of trout will reach 18,000-20,000 tonnes per year. In 2007 in Russia farmed production of sturgeon reached 2800 tonnes and black caviar -2-3 tonnes. In addition to the emergence of new farms there have been significant changes in sturgeon production and technology over the last few years. In the future several more hatcheries will be built in the south of Russia to bring the total output to 100 million sturgeon juveniles for introduction into water bodies and for commercial rearing at fish farms.

Scallop farming increases

Commercial farming of whitefish has intensified in Russia over the last few years. The annual production of farmed whitefish has doubled over this period and reached more than 6000 tonnes in 2007. Taking into consideration the scientific development and potential capacities of commercial fish farming the annual production of whitefish could reach 20,000-25,000 tonnes. The cultivation of scallops has become a new trend in Russia. It is based basically in Primorye (Far East of Russia). The number of scallop farms has tripled since 2003 reaching more than 50 farms in 2007. The farming of mollusks now is a very lucrative business and enjoys a high demand on the export markets.

Carp dominates the aquaculture sector (with more than 50% of the total national aquaculture output) as it was the first species to be cultured in Russia fish farming. The production of carp, bighead carp, silver carp and grass carp has been constantly increasing and is now about 75,000 tonnes. Russia has a lot of potential in the fish farming sector. A considerable increase in commodity farmed fish production could be achieved with new ranching technologies. The country has more than 26 million hectares of lakes, water reservoirs, estuaries and ponds. There are also stocks of natural feeds in the inland waters, which are underexploited.

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