Russia's biggest APO harvester discloses further ambitious plans to boost sustainability, exports and fleet renewal
President of Nakhodka-based BAMR-ROLIZ Group Pyotr Savchuk has given a big interview to Fishing News International disclosing further ambitious plans to boost sustainability, exports and fleet renewal, a spokeswoman of the combine told http://www.fishnet-russia.com/ (https://www.fishnet.ru/ ). The text of the interview as provided by press-service of BAMR-ROLIZ follows below.
FNI: Firstly, can you give me an introduction to the company?
BAMR-ROLIZ: The "BAMR-ROLIZ" Group of Companies consist of several foremost fishing enterprises of the Primorsky region: PJSC "Nakhodka active marine fishery base" (NBAMR); CJSC "ROLIZ"; "Far Eastern fishing company" (DRK), LLC; Fishing Kolkhoz "Far Eastern Fishery Base" (DVBR), LLC; Fish-factory "Kamenskiy", LLC; and "Managing Company BAMR" (MC BAMR), LLC.
Major business activities of the Group are concentrated on harvesting and further processing of sea fish and cephalopods. Our fleet works across all of the northwestern Pacific Ocean waters and annually catches more than 170,000 tons of fish and seafood. The Group's combined workforce exceeds 4,000 people.
In addition to owning its fishing and transport fleet, "BAMR-ROLIZ" Group has a full infrastructure complex, supporting its effective functioning:
- Fleet Maintenance Base.
- Fishing Gear Factory;
- Port complex, with berths, crane equipment, general cargo warehouse, and up-to-date cold storage.
JSC NBAMR activity is not limited to primary processing of fish products. Its structure also contains an On-shore Processing Facility, producing a wide variety of intermediates from fish and cephalopods.
Enterprises of the Group possess a rich semi-centennial history and unique experience, elevating them among few Russian companies producing single frozen fish fillet and mince certified for export to European Union countries.
Management of the Group operation activities is performed by MC BAMR, which is entrusted with matters of fleet management at fishing, organizing its technical service and supply; logistics and integrated products sale; financial, legal, and human resources support. Centralized administration fosters top efficiency of the Group production facilities and quotas for sea biological resources catch.
The Group promotes socially responsible business in its work, and strives to realize effective programs in ecology, sea biological resources defenсe and renewal, industrial safety and labor protection, personnel development and human resources, social support and security, and ongoing modernization of the Group's social infrastructure.
FNI: I would like to know a bit of its history; how many vessels it operates and in which fisheries apart from pollock?
BAMR-ROLIZ: The "BAMR-ROLIZ" Group of Companies fishing fleet consists of 21 large-tonnage and one middle-tonnage vessel, as well as one transport refrigerator.
All vessels are equipped with effective and environmentally safe fishing gear, up-to-date fish-detection equipment, and advanced high-performance processing equipment.
Seventeen vessels are registered by the Commission of the European Communities and have permission to export their product to EU countries.
Vessels of companies catch fish and seafood all year round in clean, environmentally safe waters of the Seas of Bering and Okhotsk, as well as near the Kuril Islands and the western coast of Japan. The main fishery species include pollock, squid, herring, atka mackerel, laemonema (podonema).
FNI: How much of the Russian pollock quota does the company catch?
BAMR-ROLIZ: Nowadays, annual catch of fish and seafood by the "BAMR-ROLIZ" Group of Companies fleet is more than 170 000 tons, i.e., more than 12% of the total yield in the Russian Far Eastern basin, and about 30% of Primorsky region enterprises catch.
Pollock quotas are around 8,5% from Total Allowed Catch in all zones.
FNI: Where are the main markets and in what forms - i.e. blocks, etc?
BAMR-ROLIZ: Thanks to high quality, the products produced by the Group enjoy stable and high demand in both domestic Russian and international markets.
More than 200 trading and processing companies from Russia, Commonwealth of Independent States, and Baltic countries are permanent business partners and customers of members of the Group.
Since the beginning of the 1990's, the Group member companies have been actively developing new international markets. As a result, the Group maintains long-term business relations with large companies from Germany, Great Britain, France, Japan, the Republic of Korea, China, and other countries. In 2007, export totaled 65% of production volume. The main export products are pollock h/g, pollock fillet, mince, roe and milt, pacific herring, atka mackerel, and fishmeal. The "BAMR-ROLIZ" Group of Companies is the largest producer at Russian Far East, exporting top quality fish products, such as pollock fillet PBO and mince frozen at sea.
Almost all of production is sold in blocks.
FNI: Are there any plans to expand?
BAMR-ROLIZ: As well as each company planning its evolution we are not going to stop at what we have achieved.
FNI: Could you give me a bit of history as to how the MSC application for the pollock fishery came about? Why did you decide to go down the eco-label route?
BAMR-ROLIZ: Since 2006, fishery enterprises of the Russian Far East have undertaken active steps for introducing principles of sustainable fishing and pollock fishery certification in compliance with Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) directives. Companies fishing around 70% of the pollock quota, including the Group, united to form the "Pollock Association" (ADM).
The main task of the Association is efficient use, preservation, and development of pollock population in Russian Far East seas, including certain reasonable self-restriction of ADM-related companies activities. Thus, as one of its primary goals, the Association developed and successfully implemented pollock roe output regulation measures in the 2007 fishing season. It is significant that those measures were approved and supported by state regulating authorities and are now secured by appropriate standards documents.
Such measures appreciably decrease burden on pollock nature populations and salutary affects its reproduction. Thus, first results of self-restriction were reflected in science forecasts which predict 30% increasing of General Allowed Catch in Sea of Okhotsk in 2009.
It became evident that sustainable fishery has efficient economic consequences. Meanwhile it is "a must" to have an appropriate international certificate for those enterprises which products ecological compatibility and transparency of origin is above suspicion.
Since the Association fully supports MSC principles of sustainable fishery, it became an initiator of pollock fishing pre-assessment according to MSC standards in 2007.
The Group members expect that these measures, will allow companies to achieve the implementation of sustainable fishing principles much faster, perpetuating fishery as long as it is required. At the same time, this measures will preserve ecosystems and maintain the highest level of harvest, mitigating any damage from these activities and facilitating economic and social development, both at present and in the future.
FNI: When do you hope the assessment will be completed?
BAMR-ROLIZ: We believe that pollock fishery will be certified in 3-4 years.
FNI: Could you give me some details about the kind of changes that are being made to tie into the MSC criteria, for example changes to the way your vessels fish, gear adjustments or closed areas?
BAMR-ROLIZ: Required changes will become clear as certification progresses.
FNI: What has happened since the assessment was announced?
BAMR-ROLIZ: Working on fishery certification Association ties together legislature, science and catchers. Today we can announce that preliminary assessment has been finished. Working groups managing corrective actions were created within Association and full assessment has started.
FNI: What impact do you feel the MSC assessment will have, will you get a higher price?
BAMR-ROLIZ: First of all, events following certification process allow saving fishing stability. World Pollock stock sustainability means long-time functioning of companies catching it. Also, MSC certificate gives us a chance to expand our business contacts, enter those chains which demand eco-label as indispensable condition. And price is not fundamental in this process. But I should admit, that products which high quality is confirmed and above suspicion cost more all over the world. Consumers are ready to pay higher price for providing their families with ecologically safe products, produced from legal (and not poaching) raw materials, and for confidence, that company will take care of preserving resources not only for them, but also for their children and grandchildren.
FNI: Would you be able to give me an indication of price compared to the U.S.-caught pollock?
BAMR-ROLIZ: There is a difference for sure, but we can't name the exact number.
FNI: Do you think that more partnerships between American and Russian companies - like the recent one with Trident and Sakhalin - may happen in the run in to the MSC certification?
BAMR-ROLIZ: We assume that many companies which left Russian market after strict sustainability demands appearance are able to return here after assessment finishes. Also, barriers will be smoothed with companies which buy fillet in Europe. For example, eco-label is an obligatory condition of deliveries to such big chains of USA as Walmart and McDonald's. Pinnacle, Highliner, Gorton's have been showing their interest to Russian fillet for a long time. Probably it will be easier for them to sign contracts with Russian suppliers after certification is finished.
FNI: Do you feel it would be a very significant event to get the first Russian fishery certified?
BAMR-ROLIZ: If everything passes successfully then it will become a significant event. Nowadays enterprises of other regions has followed our example and started certification of other fishery. But it is meaningful for "headliners" to meet with success. Then we will be able not only to inspire with our example but also to share experience of fortunate cooperation with all structures during certification. And subsequently production of Russian fishing industry will become more competitive at world market.
FNI: How did the company get involved with the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership?
BAMR-ROLIZ: Cooperation began in 2007 at international exhibition in Brussels - Seafood Exposition. Common ground was found during negotiations in questions of Pollock fishery ecological preservation. The project of FIP (Russian Pollock Fishery Improvement Partnership) has officially started this year during Third international fishery congress. Its members announced this event on Friday, fifth of September, timed it to Marine Stewardship Council public declaration of Russian Pollock fishery full certification beginning. The idea of FIP creation appeared during International fishery congress at 2007 while negotiations between representatives of BAMR-ROLIZ Group and executive director of Sustainable Fishery Partnership - Jim Cannon.
Main goals of new international organization are team-work of companies (producers, customers and SFP) on securing long-term, stable supply of fish products and supporting health of Russian Pollock ecosystems. That is why the first task of Partnership is to consolidate resources, experience and knowledge to help and support Pollock Association in its efforts in providing compliance of Russian Pollock fishery to MSC standards (and successful passing of MSC certification).
Partnership is headed by: BAMR-ROLIZ Group of companies, BirdsEye Iglo Group and SFP. Main members at this point are FRoSTA, Royal Greenland, FoodVest, Pickenpack, Delmar, Fishin' Company, Icelandic group, Pinnacle, Highliner, Gorton's. It is planned to attract new members both from side of customers and producers
FNI: Also, I have heard that Russia has extended its quotas from five to ten years, what impact will that have on your operations?
BAMR-ROLIZ: First of all this is stability and confidence in the future. The ability to take long-term credits and intend activities for longer period of time appeared after that. Long-time economic development plans are made based on fixed quotas and approximate forecast of Total Allowed catch. We are able to include more expensive equipment and new vessels purchase into business-plan as their pay-off period can be longer now.
FNI: Does the company have any plans to build new vessels or processing plants or to modernise vessels because you know have a longer quota?
BAMR-ROLIZ: Our company is preparing to cardinal fleet renewal and our specialists are already making spade-work. We are returning Pollock equipment to fishing freezing trawlers to make them multi-purposed vessels again. Projects of big fishing freezing trawlers reequipment are developed including fillet producing and additional automation of all industrial processes. Now the main goal is to raise productivity of vessels. And while searching for new crafts main characteristic is efficiency of work - less expense and more output. That means ecological compatibility of use, possibility of newest production equipment placing and will also influence crew wages increase.