If Russia has to buy fish abroad, the prices will be higher
Fishing companies of St.Petersburg and the Leningrad Region could have fished 1.5 thousand tons of fish over January. Losses of fishing collective farms in sale of fish made up 15-17 million rubles. For a month already, none of ships can put to sea in the Gulf of Finland or in the Baltic Sea. The problem arose because of fishing quotas distribution for 2004 adopted in November 2003.
Earlier, fishing quotas were distributed on the regional level for a year ahead. According to a new resolution, it is the State Fishery Committee that distributes the quotas. At that, Russian regions submit all necessary documents to the Committee. Fishing farms say they have submitted the documents in time. Unfortunately, it turned out that consideration of the documents required much more time. Senior captain of Rybakkolkhoz Alexey Molchanovsky says that it would be better to introduce the innovations in April or July.
While the State Fishery Committee, the Ministry of Finance, the Economy Ministry and the Ministry of Justice consider the documents, vessels of fishing farms of St.Petersburg and the Leningrad Region lie idle. According to Alexey Molchanovsky, 39 organizations go fishing in the region. Majority of people at these organizations survive thanks to fishing. Since beginning of the year, 580 people have been unemployed in the Baltika fishing farm, the biggest farm in the Leningrad Region situated in the settlement of Vistino. They have to leave the settlement to earn some money on the side. The situation is typically critical in other fishing farms of Russia, in Kaliningrad and Murmansk for example.
90 per cent of fish (sprat, cod, flounder and salmon) is fished in the Baltic Sea by fishing farms of St.Petersburg and the Leningrad Region. Moreover, some kinds of freshwater fish are fished in the Gulf of Finland. If the fishing problem is not settled in the nearest time Russia will have to buy sea products in the Baltic countries and in Scandinavia, which in its turn will make prices higher.
There are 43 vessels currently lying idle in the Gulf of Finland and in the Baltic Sea. They are ready to put out to sea as soon as a resolution permitting fishing is signed. Fishermen of the Leningrad Region have already appealed to different authorities for solution of the problem. St.Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko appealed to the State Fishery Committte and asked if fishing farms could start in-shore fishing until the resolution is signed. At that, the catch of biological resources would not exceed the average catch registered within 2001-2003. However, no response has been obtained yet from the Committee.
Fishermen cannot change anything and just have to wait. They do not organize protest actions, however Chairwoman of the territorial department of the Russian Fishermen Trade Union in St.Petersburg and the Leningrad Region Yekaterina Slepneva says that fishermen's patience may give way. It is not ruled out that a suit may be brought against the executive authority.