The State Fisheries Committee Of Russia: Summation Of The National Disgrace

In this article we would like impartially to sum up the results of the past year by analyzing activities of the General Fish Headquarters of the country and their head Mr. Nazdratenko, basing upon facts we (“PR” editorial staff) have.
The country’s fish industry entered the year 2001 with unprecedented, having no analogue in the world decree of the Russian government # 1010 from December 27, 2000 on quota auctions for the Russian fishermen in Russia’s EEZ. In this way the Russian government canceled some articles of the constitution with one stroke of the pen on the advice of the State Fisheries Committee — the author of the proposal (that had been flushing with resources on the sly through the unitary “store” called “National Marine Resources”, until this idea was borrowed and supported by quirky fellows from another institution called Ministry of Trade and Economic Development). In the result of these auctions Russia’s federal budget received approximately 6 billion rubles, considerable amount of which came from foreign companies that purchased quotas for currency beneficial marine species — roe Pollack and king crab, thus depriving Russian seamen of their salary and fishing regions of taxes.
What were the State Fisheries Committee’s actions to protect Russia’s national interests and Russian fish producers? Its actions were dramatic in consequences — on March 28, 2001 on a peak of Pollack fisheries (that very Pollack with expensive roe) the head of the State Fisheries Committee in spite of protests of marine scientists prolonged Pollack expedition in the Sea of Okhotsk for ten days more to avoid claims from foreign quota-holders to auction organizers and to give the former a chance to realize their quotas in full.
The percentage of roe produce and its total amount sold on the world market was higher in 2001 than the year before, in spite of the fact that, in everyone’s opinion, including the State Fisheries Committee’s, immature (without roe) young fish or small Pollack dominates in harvests of Far Eastern fishermen. Analysis of Pollack price on the Tokyo fish market also witnesses to steady tendencies to … price fall in comparison with the year 2000 — it means, the Japanese fish market is overfilled with roe. Where did it come from, if immature fish prevailed in hauls? It means they took as much as they could and we can easily add an equal volume of young Pollack (less than one foot) wasted and thrown overboard to the virtual Pollack catch in the Sea of Okhotsk. It’s a major cause of dramatic decrease in Pollack quantity — “devastation of high-yielded generations during the period of adverse conditions for survival of the species”. Most young Pollack is caught in the end of a fishing season — in late March-April.
But, “considering disastrous consequences” the State Fisheries Committee of the Russian Federation detaches squadron of 23 large-capacity vessels to the Sea of Okhotsk in late 2001 to take “underharvested” (read: underwasted, underravaged) 38 tons of Pollack.
Actions of the State Fisheries Committee were directed in 2001 not to preserve the remnants of the Okhotsk Pollack — visa versa: the Committee approved extermination of survivors.
Why should we spare it? According to a long-ranged forecast of scientists, including those from the Far East, Pollack has no perspective for fishing either in the Sea of Okhotsk or in the Bering Sea. The Russian, first of all large-capacity, fleet must follow a new strategy of fish industry, elaborated by the State Fisheries Committee last year, and go to high-seas and to exclusively alien (in contrast to exclusive Russian) economic zones to catch fish, which thanks to the policy of the Committee as a plenipotentiary state organ dealing in management of fish resources, has become extinct in Russian waters.
But who waits for the Russian fish fleet in alien or none’s waters? Who calculated cost-effectiveness of deep-sea fisheries, which exist ONLY on state subsidies in ALL countries? TODAY deep-sea fisheries on terms suggested by the State Fisheries Committee mean for Russian producers fishing under alien flags, i.e. a loss of largest taxpayers in fish regions of the country. It will be a CATASTROPHE! If we assume that a vessel is an immovable property like a plot of land with a flag fluttering above, like it does above any village council, we’ll have to confess we are selling our land on piecemeal basis. It’s an absolute collapse of the fish industry, with foreign supertrawlers like “American Monarch” filling the free niche. That is the essence of the new strategy of the General Headquarters! It has no perspective for the country on the whole, its food security in particular, and moreover for its geopolitics discussed broadly by the head of the Committee last year. What on earth geopolitics, if half of 300,000 frontier Kamchatka, which has been developing since ancient times thanks to marine resources, is about to leave the peninsular being deprived of all primary quotas (1,200 million slided to about 200,000 tons) auctioned by foreigners or severely “snatched” by neighboring regions “retaining the conquered” as they say in public.
The second half of the population is craving for a forthcoming industrial revolution — development of alternative natural resources. It concerns oil production in the unique western shelf of Kamchatka. It’s the State Fisheries Department and its entities that define whether it is “unique” or not — e.g., in 2001 the All-Russian Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography (VNIRO) canceled the highest fisheries rating for those parts of the Sakhalin shelf where oil is produced. The Committee blessed this decision. Tomorrow the same scientists who sound sensible and uphold the honor of the cloth with what seems to be bureaucratic interpretation will finish the West-Kamchatsky shelf off in the same way they did with coastal waters of Chukotka, and are planning to do with a shelf in Magadan in north-western part of the Sea of Okhotsk — in areas of Pollack fishing.
Especially when the State Fisheries Committee, and we repeatedly wrote about it, in addition to obedient personnel has in store different means tested on public opinion — “technical errors”, for example. Specialists from the Committee “erroneously” set a borderline in the fishing grounds with a southern point right in the middle of Kronotsky Nature Reserve to let Japanese drovers, fishing in Russia’s EEZ according to intergovernmental agreement, block the migratory route of Kamchatka sock-eye salmon. It’s all very well that people noticed it — and then the Committee supposedly recollected it: oh, we have a technical error here. What an error — 30 nautical miles or 60 kilometers!
Here is another more effective method to throw dust in people’s eyes — to increase (TPC) Total Permitted Catch in the West-Kamchatsky shelf which should be cleared of all kinds of creatures including crabs for a well-known reason (OIL!) and let people think that the Committee takes care of conservation of the most beneficial object of fisheries in the Far East, the population of which has been severely undermined.
It’s, no doubt, a difficult task: on the one hand, crab harvesting provides big money, on the other hand — even seamen claim that the store of king crab has been CATASTROPHICALLY diminished (we have documents corroborating the deliverance of the State Fisheries Committee of Russia). But how to take the crab and at the same time save the honor? To inform people about TPC lessening showing their anxiety as an organ of state management of fish resources in public but actually to deceive cynically and to considerably increase auctioneering quotas — by a third against those in 2001?
The Committee under the leadership of Mr. Nazdratenko may seem to play a queer performance before the country.
The head of the State Fisheries Committee is bending over backwards to show he is a violent opponent of auctions, though quotas for them are taken from fishing regions in inverse proportion to assurance of Eugene Ivanovich. So, what “commertial quotas” do we have for the year 2000? I even tell nothing about aristocratic crabs sold exclusively at auctions and entirely exported Eurasian-democratic roe Pollack products; 96 per cent of the TPC of people’s herring will be auctioned, and it will probably disappear from the list of cheap snacks and turn into delicacy with dollar equivalent. It means the Russian fisherman will have no salary but lose profit and fishing regions — taxes, the Russians will salivate paying double price for a common Russian herring eventually served up for our rich neighbor.
Moreover, Eugene Ivanovich takes another initiative — he obliges seamen fishing in Russia’s EEZ to call at Russian ports and declare their cargo to prevent illegal export of fish products.
At the same time Eugene I. Nazdratenko says in all mass media he appears (and he does it often): Most dreadful thing for a Russian fisherman is calling at Russian ports where he is stripped naked by the State Supervising Bodies. Eugene Ivanovich mentions the total number of vessel-hours for one board to pass port control and execute call and leaving in Russia and in the South Korean port Pusan; he mentions a real (without bribes) cost of execution in Russian and foreign ports — and it differs greatly. Of course, not in our favor.
What is the task of the new trick of the State Fisheries Committee? Just to harden the extortionate system through fish ports!?
And its purpose then? To strengthen port center? To control taking out of fish products? Or final ruining of fish companies?
In whose favor does Eugene I. Nazdratenko, the head of the State Fisheries Committee, act? And why does he fool fishermen around with his grandstand care for their good? After all quite opposite things occur in real life!
That’s what happening in the most affluent fish region in Russia — Kamchatka.
The store of Okhotomorsky and Beringovomorsky Pollack caught in Kamchatrybvod’s patch, which provides the basic ground for Far East fisheries is extremely undermined. The store of other fish has lessened. King crab probably will have no commercial value soon. Some species of salmon are considerably limited for fishing in Kamchatka. Several fish hatcheries are not able to fulfill the state plan on caviar laying — there are no breeders. At the same time there occurred an accident at one hatchery with disastrous effect for the whole country — all young fish, 12 million fries were killed. It suffered damage in 12 billion rubles. No offenders were found, no culprits were punished. Nevertheless they built a new big fish hatchery, opened it solemnly, gave a report, but haven’t set it going yet — it turned out to be lack of water for its normal work, they thought everything thoroughly, but the main thing — water!
Poaching became organized and large-scaled. They experience shortage of fishing inspectors — very often only those go to Rybvod (Federal Department for Protection and Reproduction of Fish Resources and Fisheries Regulations) who is planning to earn extra money to salary by selling confiscated or illegally taken caviar. In some villages all — young and old — do nothing but cure caviar during spawning seasons. According to information of the Kamchatka Fisheries Department published in local press, in 2001 (lean year) the peninsular cured more caviar than in 2000 with the largest school of humpback salmon in western coastal waters that century.
They should have rung the bell to save salmon school in Kamchatka from complete extermination but the head of the Committee on the contrary set an extra Fisherman’s day (as an alternative to the national one) exclusively for the peninsular with grand celebration and an official perpendicular after finishing the fishing season 2001. Isn’t it a FEAST DURING PLAGUE?
The answer is simple. In 2001 when a new administration came to power they initiated redistribution of property in fish industry of the peninsular. Many things will depend upon local authorities and the federal body on fish resources and their decision to take one’s side especially if they are in cahoots with each other.
Eugene Ivanovich had no affection for the previous authorities of the peninsular as, having been a governor of Primorsky region, he was battling with people of Kamchatka to the death for fish (especially crab) resources of Kamchatka shelf, while putting resource policy of Primorsky oligarchs into reality. And now it’s up to him. As for the present authorities in Kamchatka — he fostered and cherished them to tame them. So, the only vice-governor of Kamchatka (whose highest office in fisheries was forth mechanic on a large freezer trawler twenty years ago; his functions were supervision and operation of pumps, pipes as well as pumping out of oily bilge water… ) got into the inner sanctum of the State Fisheries Committee — its Board. That is why even occasionally his name is pronounced with deep veneration. As for Kamchatka’s resources, the present vice-governor is calm like an elephant, literally — he is ready to go for it to Africa, as he parts from what he has without complaint or tears. The most important thing for him is to expel two largest fish companies — “Acros” and “Oceanrybflot” from the country, which have the most numerous large-capacity fleet, and consequently, most allocations in the region due to their great capabilities. A. Chistyakov looks at fleet’s future through Nazdratenko’s eyes of. That’s the reason why the newly-made member of the Board doesn’t argue with his chief while distributing actual quotas for the Far East and doesn’t promote interests of the peninsular that has no chance to survive without them. In 2002 Kamchatka has already lost some allocations (about 10 per cent of quotas for food fish) from the regional ratio system between fishing regions and provinces, which has been before and to which ex-governor of Primorye had to submit in spite of ambitions of some Primorsky oligarchs.
The conclusion we make in the final part of the article is not comforting: the State Fisheries Committee of Russia headed by ex-governor of the biggest fishing region in the Far East keeps on ruining fish industry (the same happened to Vladivostok Base of Trawl and Refrigerated Cargo Fleet, the largest in the former Soviet Union which showed best results in the country in 1996); strategy and tactics of the Committee and its management do not reflect positive solutions and actions for conservation of the industry and its resource base.
Kamchatka is probably planned to be the first victim of these actions to destroy fish industry and to redistribute fishermen’s property once again. It has spared its fishing and fish processing potential; it survived and grew stronger in new economic conditions in contrast to Primorye.
The next victim is likely to be… - Primorsky region where “Dalmoreproduct”, the biggest Fish Holding Company in Russia, is in its last grasp, sold out by “new Russians” from the State Fisheries Committee’s subdivision “Rybcomflot, Ltd.” with the help of Mr. Nazdratenko.
When E.I. Nazdratenko was appointed to the Committee many fishermen sighed with relief: “he is our familiar!”
And he in a familiar way…
Sergei Vakhrin,
Alexander Saneyev
The Northern Pacific Fund