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Photo: Federal Agency for Fishery/Konkurent

POLLOCK WAR? | Rosrybolovstvo is ready to deprive the US of pollock in the Bering Sea: PCA and FSA are against

Click on the flag for more information about Russian Federation RUSSIAN FEDERATION
Tuesday, November 22, 2022, 05:30 (GMT + 9)

The Federal Agency for Fishery (Rosrybolovstvo) is considering the creation of a new fishing area in the Bering Sea (located in the EEZ of the Russian Federation. - Note ed. ), in which Russian fishermen will additionally catch 150 thousand tons of pollock migrating from US waters to feed in Russia. Also in the area you can get herring and cod. This became known at a meeting of the Far Eastern Scientific Fisheries Council (FERFC), held last week.

“For this area, in which “migrants” from the United States will be caught, there will be no by-catch restrictions for pollock juveniles. The size of the catch for this area can be set based on the volumes previously allocated by the United States for Soviet fishermen”, said Alexei Baitalyuk, deputy director of the All-Russian Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography (VNIRO).

Presenting the creation of a new fishing area, the representative of VNIRO emphasized that the presence of fish in this area is confirmed by studies conducted by the fish science of the United States and Russia [each country worked according to its own program] of pollock population studies.

Recall that in the spring of this year, Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Trutnev instructed the officials of the Federal Agency for Fishery to review the parity of the pollock fishery between Russia and the United States. In the Bering Sea, walleye pollock is a transboundary species, meaning it migrates from the US Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to the Russian EEZ and vice versa.

Science considers the transboundary stock to be the common resource of the two countries. More than 1.5 million tons of pollock are allowed to be harvested annually in the Bering Sea. In August, the All-Russian Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography (VNIRO), based on many years of research by adjusting the total allowable catch (TAC), increased the volume of Russian catch in this area by 149 thousand tons of pollock, thus, domestic fishers are allowed to harvest 559 thousand tons . But 100 thousand tons are still in the water, and the area is being created so that companies that do not have quotas are allowed to fish.

The representative of the Federal Agency for Fishery emphasized at the meeting that 150 thousand tons of pollock in the new area, or, as fish science calls it, the “triangle”, is planned to be harvested according to the Olympic principle. This is when any Russian fishing company can, according to the declarative principle, put up a fleet and start fishing. When 150,000 tons are mined on a competitive basis, the area will be closed.

At the same time, if pollock biomass from US waters is significant, then our fishermen will still be able to catch, as the regulator can quickly increase the volume of fishing in this area. At the same time, pollock fishing in the rest of the Bering Sea will be subject to quotas. Also, due to the allocation of a new zone, the fishing load on the pollock population, which is located inside our Russian zone, will decrease.

However, two Russian partners of the international non-profit organization Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) opposed the creation of a “triangle” and an increase in the Russian catch by 150,000 tons of pollock - the Pollock Catchers Association (PCA) and the Fishery Shipowners Association (FSA, controlled by the Russian Fishery Company ").

According to the head of the PCA Alexey Buglak, the current increase in the volume of the total allowable catch by one and a half times already carries the risk of losing MSC certification for members of the association. “The triangle is no longer a risk, but a 100% loss of the fishing certificate in the West Bering Sea zone and the launch of a revision of all pollock certificates,” says Alexey Buglak.

True, what standards of environmental certification can consider the pollock fishery as unregulated and almost as poaching, Buglak did not indicate. It is known that 60 points are needed for certification, our fisheries have more than 80.

Moreover, this certification is based on VNIRO data, and the foreigners did not conduct any of their own field studies. However, it is now clear that MSC certification is deterring countries from increasing catches in their certified fisheries. Thus, this organization exerts political and economic pressure on the sovereign right of the state to dispose of its biological resources. The MSC leadership does not hide the fact that it already controls the main fisheries in different countries of the world and influences the allocation of national quotas to countries in convention areas under intergovernmental agreements.

It should be noted that only in July 2021 PCA received a certification decision from MSC on the recognition of the Russian pollock fishery in the Bering Sea as sustainable. The second FSA certificate holder received a similar certificate only in June 2022. Thus, without any foreign certification, Russian fishing companies have been catching pollock in the Bering Sea for more than 30 years, producing products and successfully selling them on foreign markets. Not a single Russian enterprise has publicly stated that it has any obstacles with access to markets or that the sale of products not certified by MSC is stalling.

Nevertheless, the opening of the fishery in the "triangle" may be delayed for some time due to technical problems with the renewal of existing contracts. After all, the "triangle" is being created within the already existing fishing zones, which means that the Federal Agency for Fishery will need to amend the contracts with those companies that have quotas. “The possibility and efficiency of such changes will be worked out by the lawyers of the Federal Agency for Fisheries,” said Vasily Sokolov, deputy head of the Federal Agency for Fishery.

Source: konkurent.ru (translated from original in russian)

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