Russian pollock fishermen to claim $8.5 million worth of damages from Northwest Coast Guard

June 5, 2008 16:26
Vladivostok-based Association of Pollock Fishermen with 29-company membership is going to take the Northwest Department of Coast Guard to court over RUB 200 million worth of damages claimed by the fleets, according to the association's President German Zverev quoted by an early June report of Vostok-Media.

It is understood that the claims are being filed by the affected companies under the umbrella of the organization.

The amount at stake has resulted from what has been described as massive ungrounded seizure of fishing vessels in March-April 2008 during the Sea of Okhotsk pollock season ending 10 April earlier this year.  

The controversy took its roots in the legal uncertainty existing at that moment in respect of the violation of the rated pollock roe yield of 4.5% interpreted by the Coast Guard on  each particular day basis. As a result, the Northwest Coast Guard arrested 30 Russian trawlers in the Sea of Okhotsk and escorted them to the port of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (Capital of Kamchatka Territory). 

However the fishermen argue that the respective regulation does not specify if frozen or wet roe should be calculated versus the catch weight and over which time scale.

The Coast Guard however will stick to their position claiming they were acting in strict accordance with the law. Prior to the season the office approached the fishery bodies in charge for explanation of the method of recording pollock roe yield but getting no answer the guards had to produce their own internal rules for the issue. More specifically, in order to compare the actual roe yield with the 4.5% norm the officers would take the weight of the roe not subjected to washing, sorting and freezing.

Meanwhile, Russia's Federal Fisheries Agency has expressed support for taking the matter to the Court.

At the same time the body has modified the Fishing Rules stipulating that the rated yield of 4.5% should apply not to the average daily harvest but to an average monthly catch and no problems should be expected during the unrolling season in the Bering Sea.

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