Главная Murmansk will gain the title of the fish capital back again!
Murmansk will gain the title of the fish capital back again! Печать E-mail

For the last several years there have been talks about how to make the Murmansk fishing vessels return to their home port again.

There seems to be a need to put this question even in a more acute form: how to make those left that still dare to call at the Murmansk port stay here. It seems that the customs and similar controlling authorities do everything to confirm the opinion of the fishermen who call our port "an enemy port", the name chosen with bitter irony.

A glaring example of this is the recent incident with the vessel of the Murmansk Trawl Fleet when it was arrested on the basis of several excess tons of minor importance which is not considered a specially dangerous crime under international laws. So, what is the real matter of things in fish industry and in the Northern basin today? What are prospects of development? These are the themes of our talk with the deputy of the Murmansk Regional Duma - Yury ZADVORNY.

-Yuri Vasilievich, what news do you prefer to begin with - good or bad one? What trends do you think prevail in fish industry of the region now - positive trends or negative ones as it was before?

-I can say with satisfaction that in the recent time good news comes more often. And this is good news in itself. First of all, the Federal Law about Fishing according to which enterprises get the right on water raw material resources for five years, has been passed at last. From now, allowed volumes of catch are known to enterprises beforehand, and they have a very good opportunity for long-range planning and necessary changes in their work.

And for fishermen it's almost the most important.

I would consider frequent attempts "to push" "necessary" amendments into the Law which are, to put it mildly, not quite good for fishermen, bad news. Among such "necessary innovations" are, for instance, amendments that would give a fish-catching company the right for raw material resources for 25 years at once. The calculation of catch volumes here is wanted to be done according to the activity results of the last two years. On the face of it, such an amendment seems to be progressive. But I have always considered myself, let us say, a careful optimist. If an enterprise is given a quota for 25 years at once, then why should it burden itself with such problems as, for instance, the construction of new vessels? It's not a secret that the so called fishery rentiers have appeared here in abundance. They do not own any fleet of necessary power, they sometimes even haven't got any vessels at all, but they have a legal right for a certain volume of water bioresources. And at the first opportunity they resell their quotas to the enterprises which really need them to continue their fishery activity. Is it normal that the rantiers will continue living a comfortable life during half a century, without going to sea and only reselling their quota?

I'd better speak about some more positive point. I have always thought and think now that fish industry is nothing without fleet renewal. Today, there exists a whole group of enthusiasts in the Union of Fish Producers of the North, which consists of those ship-owners who are seriously going to build new ships. We are choosing an appropriate project at the moment. There are three of them, calculated for enterprises of various «sizes». We are planning to build new universal as well as specialized trawlers to catch bottom-dwelling and pelagic fish.

- By the way, it's strange but in the recent time we do not hear loud declarative statements of the government to build vessels exceptionally in the Russian ship-yards, and that the state in its turn should provide financial support in the form of banking credits for this good deal.

- There have been such appeals, and not once. But they are not justified economically. Let us look closer at it: the today's reality is that Russia lags behind the leading world producers (and not only behind leaders) both in motor-car construction and in the construction of fishery vessels. This gap in the development makes several orders and seems to be disastrous and for ever. Thus, there is no sense in catching up with those who left us be hind long ago. To "run after" and to "outdistance" someone again would be a false patriotism deal. In Norway, for example, they do not construct their own planes or cars, but the country does not feel defective. Any great country will envy their living standard. And if we are experts in the construction of competitive warships and tanks, let us modernize them.

There is one more misleading appeal in this connection: to build ship hulls here at least, but to equip them abroad. The advantage seems to be present here. But here is an example. The price for the construction of a hull in the true-home Kaliningrad shipbuilding yard «Yantar» is 1,5 times higher than the price offered in a yard of any European country. And here they couldn't explain it to us clearly where such a price comes from, especially in Kaliningrad, the city with preferential treatment.

Or, for example, let's look at the relations with banks. The Minister of Agriculture Gordeev has said recently that Rosselkhoz-bank is ready to help and lower the interest rates. However, banking credits are still impossible for the most Russian fish producers and the interest rates here are still much higher than the rates offered by European banks, the latter are ready to give money for the construction of the Russian fleet on a mutually beneficial basis.

The only condition for everybody and for the "club of enthusiasts" from the Union of Fish Producers of the North, in particular, is that the company should have the right for the resource volume equal to 3 thousand tons and more. It is understandable: it will be impossible to return credit sums given for the construction of vessels with a lesser volume.

- And what about the suspicions of those compatriots who think the West is not interested in the development of the Russian industry, it only has interest in getting our resources - oil, gas, timber, water bioresources? And they are ready to finance the construction of Russian vessels only to get future catch to their fish-processing factories?

- It's a normal practicality. They'll render credits only for the construction of vessels in their shipyards. Why shouldn't they finance a foreign economy? Everything here is logical from the western point of view.

Now, I'd like to say a few words about raw material. We do not supply anybody with fish there - they've got enough fish of their own. Till now there exists an opinion that our fishermen sell nearly all their catch abroad. It's far from the truth. About 60-80 percent, in some companies even 100%, of catch goes to Russia. For example, our enterprise: approximately 65 percent of catch appears in the home market. In the year 2005, our fish production made 10 thousand tons and more than 6 thousand tons (two thirds) were realized in the home market. The other question is that we deliver our «goods», as a rule, not through the Murmansk port. This is not our fault, it's more our pain. The talks about all possible obstacles put by various controlling agencies, which make calling at the home port a real torture, have already set everybody's teeth on edge, but «the cart is still there».

Besides, it's economically and geographically more profitable for us to unload our cargo in the Norwegian ports. But we do not sell our catch to them, we just carry it by transport vessels or by motor transport from those refrigerators onto the territory of Russia.

Though, as for money, the picture is quite different. Today, the price for a ton of gilled frozen cod is over 3 thousand dollars if bought from wholesalers. Therefore it'll be realized in the shops at the price of about 170-200 roubles per a kilo. Our market is not ready to buy it at such a price, thus export gives us up to 60 % of all receipts. And to tell us to bring everything here means just to overstock the market, that's all. Of course, the prices will start «falling» immediately. Perhaps, it's good for somebody. But by such fuel prices (today a ton of solar oil costs 630 dollars) the work of many, especially old vessels (and these are the most) will be unprofitable even with herring. Thus, by the way, the question of modernization and renovation of the fleet becomes even more urgent. One thing is when by the equal fuel consumption the vessel «freezes» 60 tons of production and the crew consists of 50 members, and the other thing is when 250-300 tons are being frozen by the crew of 30-40.

- Well, if we've started this conversation about new tendencies in fish industry... Recently I've been to an international «fishing» exhibition in Norway. Our fellow-country men - representatives of the fishing complex of the Murmansk region - noticed that there was a «back-movement» in the tendency to create huge holdings that consolidate catching, fish-processing and even selling enterprises - exactly the case we'd experienced once in the form of the central administrative board «Sevryba» that was functioning, in the opinion of many, quite successfully.

-As far as I know, there are opposite views. Somebody is for the creation of vertically integrated holdings. But let's turn to the example of the «Sevryba» - of course, one recalls, with nostalgia, that once cod cost 48 kopecks a kilo in the Murmansk shops, but not everybody knows that for that, fish-catching enterprises got per 2 rubles from the national treasury for it. That is, such low prices for cod were subsided at the expense of oil, vodka and the like.

Personally I think of these vertical holdings with some scepticism at all. To some extent they are a loophole for tax evasion: there exist intradepartmental prices, but profit is taken somewhere in one place, generally in off-shore banks. Thus, such variants should be treated with carefulness. Besides, technological goals and interests of the fleet, trade or even those of the onshore fish processing differ too much. Figuratively speaking, all the gear wheels are lubricated and wind well if separate, but the wheels do not coincide and therefore the whole mechanism does not work. The goal of fishermen is to catch as much fish as possible and to deliver it onshore quickly, then to get money for it and to go immediately further on, to do their work - that's their interest, that's all.

-Whether we want it or not, we should return to the "patriotic" theme today again and again. Many see in the recent abundant cases of persecution of the Russian vessels, from the side of the Norwegian coast guard in the first place, a hidden wish to put that once great and frightening country into a difficult situation, to show Russia her place in a pointed manner...

- I can't agree to such formulating the question. It should be noted that the Norwegians are very law-abiding people, and they demand the same from the others, especially in the waters of their responsibility. Let's return to the case with the «Elektron». I won't comment the situation: it's the matter of the court that is processing the case. Let's just recall the way how widely the heroic epic of the trawler was covered in mass media. But at the same time two Spanish catching vessels with large-tonnage cargo of halibut prohibited for catch now had been arrested by the Norwegian coast guard near Spitzbergen. The infringers paid a fine of several million dollars. But this incident was practically "ignored" by the Russian mass media. That seemed to be uninteresting - "not ours were beaten"... And for the sake of fairness, it should be noted that the Norwegians control everyone irrespective of the ship's nationality and with an equal strictness. And, frankly speaking, if we are unable to control the region of Spitzbergen properly, let the others do it at least (in our case, the Norwegians). After all, this way they guard our fish resources from poachers as well. We also call the biological resources of the Northern seas our common bank of resources. Geographically, we are neighbours for ever, whether they like us or not, and not the contrary. That means that we should live in friendship and respect the laws of each other.

The other question is that our authorities at various international sessions where there is a fight for quotas and where one should defend the national interests in the sphere of fishery, «feel shy» to put the questions strictly so that our rights could be seen well. As a result Russia's catch volumes will be decreased without sympathy and any sentiments or Russia will be «forced out of» regions rich in fish. Recently, something similar has happened to Russia in the case of mackerel in the North-Eastern Atlantic, with perch in the Imminger Sea and so on. Therefore, it would be not bad if various international conciliation commissions for fishery consisted of not only bureaucracy from the capital but also of some professionals with good experience from those who are able to tell bottom-dwelling fish from pelagic one or cod from haddock at least...

- What is your opinion, Yury Vasilievich, as to whether future generations of journalists will be able to use that already a bit boring, but such a true-essence phrase «Murmansk is the fishing capital» in their reports?

- I'm sure they will! I've always repeated Murmansk has been built on the bones of cod. I'll allow myself a lyrical digression. When the town got a new powerful and generously financed organization «Arktikmorneftegasrazvedka», many of my colleagues ran there from fleet - the opportunity of getting a flat was so attractive. I won't keep it back: I myself was thinking about that first, too. But then I found my life's credo, if I may put it so: a human being wants to eat from birth till the very death, and to eat good food. So, fish industry will exist for ever. And if the fish is even at the other end of the world, we still will go and catch it and provide the population with it. By the way, I can't help boasting. I hope that relatively soon our company will do it even better. A new trawler "Mirakh" has appeared in our fleet. This ship's more powerful and more up-to-date than her experienced «brothers». I also hope that everything connected with the normative base in the branch will go right in the nearest future and that we'll be at the same level of fishery as they are in Norway and Spain where such an ancient native trade as fishing is one of the objects of the law and considered there properly.

Interviewed by Andrey Popov

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The "Industrial NORTH" #2


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