Legislative support for the sector is now in place

by Thomas Jensen

The Russian Federation’s extensive water resources are to be better exploited for the benefit of the aquaculture sector.

Throughout the course of history Russia has been a leading maritime and fishing nation due to its territorial and geographic characteristics and its place and role in global and regional international relations. Although the end of the 20th and the start of the 21st century was a period of crisis for the Russian fishery industry, it has more recently demonstrated stable positive dynamics and growing volumes of catches and fish production.

However, today the traditional harvesting of fish and seafood has reached a point when it is difficult to increase volumes. The volume of catches in the Russian Federation amounted to 4252.6 thousand tonnes. At the same time, accessible fishing resources in the Russian Federation are limited to 4.5-5 million tonnes including low-value and unprofitable species.

Production vastly lower than potential

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the same situation can be observed globally and the general annual volume of fish production is growing solely owing to aquaculture. Countries where aquaculture is substantially supported at the national level have managed to strengthen their food security. In the Russian Federation, the current situation needs to improve drastically. Russia is responsible for only 0.2% of the world aquaculture production. At the same time, Russia possesses the world’s largest water resources suitable for aquaculture activities – it is 225 thousand square kilometres of lakes, 43 thousand sq. kilometres of water-storage reservoirs, and 520 thousand kilometres of river surfaces, as well as vast marine coastal waters (Fig. 1). According to Rosrybolovstvo, the Federal Fisheries Agency, there are about 2.5 thousand business entities of different patterns of ownership (mostly small and medium-size businesses) engaged in aquaculture.

Fig. 1    Inland water resources in the Russian Federation in thousand sq. km

However, commercial aquaculture production in the Russian Federation is around 130-140 thousand tonnes (Fig. 2), and mariculture production apparently cannot clear the 10 thousand tonnes hurdle. On average, one aquaculture farm produces around 58 tonnes of fish products a year, which is a small volume, comparable to one day’s catch by a trawler. Historically, aquaculture has developed primarily in the Southern, Central and North-Western Federal Districts. In the Southern Federal District there are about 800 aquaculture enterprises. In 2011, the region produced 39.4 thousand tonnes, which equals 33.8% of the total grown volume. Products are mostly supplied by Rostov Oblast (17.6 thousand tonnes, 48 farms), Astrakhan Oblast (10.5 thousand tonnes, 123 farms), and Krasnodar Kray (7.9 thousand tonnes, 557 farms). Major species are carp and herbivorous fishes. About 340 farms in Central Federal District produce about 24.4 thousand tonnes of aquaculture products. Here commercial production volumes are considerably lower than in the Southern Federal District, though the same species are grown − carp and herbivorous fishes. In 2011, Belgorod Oblast supplied 6.8 thousand tonnes of commercial products, Moscow Oblast 3.2 thousand tonnes, and Lipetsk Oblast 2.5 thousand tonnes.

Fig. 2 Aquaculture production in Russia in thousand tonnes

Aquaculture could substitute imports

Climate and environmental conditions in the North-Western Federal District favour the development of intensive aquaculture, i.e. farming of valuable species (trout, whitefishes) in cages or tanks. In 2011, commercial production volume in the region equalled 24.5 thousand tonnes. In the Republic of Karelia there are about 45 fish farms which in 2011 produced 9.1 thousand tonnes of fish. In the same year, 38 farms in Leningrad Oblast produced 5.1 thousand tonnes, while 10 fish farms in Murmansk Oblast grew 8.9 thousand tonnes of fish. Development of aquaculture in North-Western Federal District is one of the priorities as it is an unpolluted region that could potentially be a source to substitute fish imports from abroad. In spite of favourable climate and environmental conditions for aquaculture development in North Caucasian, Volga, Urals, Siberian, and Far East Federal Districts, this sector has not developed in these districts.

Having considered the current situation with aquaculture development in the Russian Federation, the Russian Government and Rosrybolovstvo have undertaken several measures since 2011 aimed at helping the sector. As a first step the Government of the Russian Federation developed a draft law “On Aquaculture” and submitted it to the State Duma. The draft law passed in a first reading on March 25, 2011 and was finally approved by the State Duma this spring. The law will help to solve issues regarding property rights on aquaculture species grown in water bodies of commercial importance as well as issues regarding assignment of these water bodies to business entities for growing aquaculture species. The purpose of the law is to promote the effective use of aquatic resources in the Russian Federation.

Fig. 3 Planned increase in annual aquaculture volumes in the Russian Federation in thousand tonnes.

Federal budget can support the aquaculture industry

Simultaneously, starting in 2014 Rosrybolovstvo has enabled financial support to aquaculture farms within the framework of the State Programme of the Russian Federation “Development of the Fishery Complex,” which was adopted in March this year and which includes a sub-programme aimed at creating favourable conditions for aquaculture development. It serves as the basis for the development and implementation of regional programmes for aquaculture in the Russian Federation. The programme stipulates both direct state investments and subsidies to the budgets of the districts of the Russian Federation from the federal budget to co-finance expenditure commitments aimed at the support of aquaculture. Besides, the programme makes provision for the development of an insurance system against risks in aquaculture like loss of income for commercial products in case of unfavourable natural events or fish price volatility.

The programme includes plans to stimulate research, implement new developments, prepare information materials, organize information sup
port for fish farms, create a databank of fish cultural and biological feasibility and biotechnologies, maintain a register of fish farms, and develop aquaculture in general through fishery technology parks. This will help to concentrate intellectual and financial resources, to partly solve the staffing problem at fish farms, to shorten the time of implementation and expand scientific research, and to accelerate the use of equipment and the development of aquaculture in the country. Consistent and systematic implementation of the above-mentioned measures together with clear legislation will help to utilize by 2020 most of the currently unused aquatic resources in the Russian Federation that are suitable for aquaculture, and will bring investors to the sector. According to an estimate from experts, by 2020 annual production volumes in aquaculture would grow from 140 thousand tonnes to at least 410 thousand tonnes, i.e. three-fold in 8 years (Fig. 3).

There are today about 2,427 companies in the aquaculture sector in Russia producing 130-140 thousand tonnes.

Prospects for the aquaculture sector are optimistic and its development is a critical lever that will promote the economic development of the country, provide employment, contribute to food security, and provide the Russian people with high-quality, sustainably produced fish and seafood.

Federal Agency for Fisheries

A.A.Krainy, S.V. Maksimov, S. V. Simakov, V.A. Belyaev

You may also like