President Putin talks on fishery problems

Russian President Vladimir Putin is positive that the State Duma will support a bill on increasing administrative and criminal punishment for poaching.

"I have no doubts that the State Duma deputies, not only United Russia [the pro-presidential faction that controls the absolute majority of mandates, 305 out of 450], but also other factions will support the bill," the President said at a meeting with fishery industry representatives on board the Archer trawler in Vladivostok.

The president agreed to a proposal made at the meeting to give the so-called scientific quotas to fishermen and to replace them with "live" money.

According to Putin, about 80% of fish is exported bypassing the customs control.

Last year fish output fell by 27% in the Maritime territory, by 30% in Kamchatka, he said. 60% of the industry is in a grave condition, he added.

The state and fishermen are able to find a solution to the so-called 12-mile zone problem, the Russian leader believes.

"I am sure that we can find an acceptable decision for fishermen, frontier guards and state security," he said.

In compliance with the law on the state border, all vessels fishing beyond the 12-mile zone from the coast have to pass customs and border control, which makes it more difficult for fishermen to catch fish that are permanently migrating.

Apart from this, the president is going to ask the government to work on a bill submitted by the industry's representatives and concerned with including fish quotas in fishing companies' assets, he said.

"Companies should take steps enlarge. This will increase their capitalization," Mr. Putin said. It is strange, when a fishing company has 0.7 vessel, he pointed out.

"It is necessary to overhaul the industry, then we will be able to decriminalize it and from a potentially rich sector it will turn into a really rich one".

The president promised to take up this subject again in Moscow and to give instructions to the government based on the meeting's results.

Positive changes that have happened to the industry in the last two or three years are little perceptible for the customer, he stated.

"In the last two or three years positive changes have happened to the industry, but they are not perceptible for the customer," he pointed out. The industry still remains oriented towards raw materials, and fishing companies export only raw materials or products of low procession level.

"We sell raw materials cheap and then pay a lot of money for goods necessary for customers," Vladimir Putin said. The problem of developing the fishing industry is a complex one, he pointed out. It includes "high administrative barriers, undeveloped system of port facilities, high tariffs, and all this leads to the complicated situation of the processing industry on land," he noted.

The working group of the State Council's presidium that deals with the fishing industry's problems has prepared a project to modernize the industry, which will allow resolving the crisis, governor of the Maritime territory Sergei Darkin said at the meeting.

According to the governor who heads the working group, within a month a bill on the fishing industry and some other enactments will be submitted to the government.

It is important to certify Russian fishing industry in compliance with European standards, as absence of this certification shuts ways to foreign markets and makes producers export raw materials, Mr. Darkin explained.

"Fishermen should restructure their business and be oriented towards exports of end products," he believes.

The group also proposes that all bio resources caught in Russia's exclusive economic zone should be declared and taken into account in Russian ports, he pointed out. Besides, it is necessary to increase financing of the industry's science, to offer state subsidies on the interest rates for loans taken to develop fishing business, and to streamline the customs clearance procedure, Sergei Darkin said.

He briefed the president on the territory's problems that had been resolved.

"The water supply crisis has been settled" in the Maritime territory, he reported. "We have done a lot of work, but lifted all water supply regimes".

According to the governor, the territory is succeeding with the program "Apartments for young families". The territory budget has allocated 450 million rubles (about $15 million) for this purpose and 500 apartments are now ready.

When talking on replacing privileges with compensations, Mr. Darkin expressed his hope that "the Finance Ministry will take into account aid to constituent members of the Federation in financing".

The President said that "it should definitely be done and the government has been instructed in this respect".

The President and the governor met on board the Archer trawler. Before the meeting Putin looked around the vessel, visiting the captain's cabin and the fish dressing shop.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team