In early January, the Sea of Okhotsk pollock expedition started – one of the largest fishing putins not only in Russia, but throughout the world. This year, the total allowable catch of pollock (TAC) in three sub-zones of the Sea of Okhotsk is set at 956 thousand tons.
Aleksey Buglak, president of the Association of Pollock Catchers (ADM), emphasizes that 75-80 percent of this volume can be caught in the first 100 days of fishing, that is, in season “A”. More than 120 fishing vessels will participate in the expedition, which catch 10-11 thousand tons of pollock every day during peak periods.
It is already clear to the miners that the new fishing season will not be any easier than last year’s, during which the fishermen faced sales problems. The established supply chains had to be abandoned when China, the largest importer and processor of Russian pollock, practically closed its ports due to the coronavirus.
– The Chinese “lockdown” has seriously affected the work of the industry. Enterprises were forced to change their production plans, build new fishing and export strategies. The logistics and distribution channels built over the years of work had to be quickly rebuilt in 2021 due to the restrictions imposed by China. The costs incurred by the business in this regard were not compensated for by the cost of production – throughout the year the price for frozen pollock was at a fairly low level, says Alexey Buglak.
The new pollock fishing season will not be easier than last year’s, during which the fishermen faced a sales problem
According to him, fishermen not only do not hope to ease restrictions and return to the previous format of work in the new year, but also understand that it is unrealistic to replace the PRC market in the next few years. Direct deliveries to China of the Celestial Empire amounted to 500-600 thousand tons annually, but last year they decreased by 4.5 times.
– Therefore, the most correct strategy for the entire industry should be the development of its own offshore processing and the construction of large processing complexes in the Far East, – emphasizes the interlocutor of “RG”.
In 2021, fishermen have already taken this path, increasing the production of fillets, minced meat and surimi in the sea almost threefold – up to 120 thousand tons. Another 20 thousand tons of deep processing products were produced at the coastal factories of the Far East, built as part of the investment quotas program.
As for the geography of supplies, first of all, it is necessary to increase sales in the Russian market, the capacity of which, according to ADM estimates, 120-130 thousand tons of frozen pollock and fillets is a very significant volume. Moreover, the consumption of this product per capita in Russia is higher than in the United States and some European countries, but less than in Asia.
500-600 thousand tons of frozen pollock went to China annually, last year supplies decreased by 4.5 times
Last year, fishermen’s prices for this frozen fish fell from 110 to 60 rubles.
But in retail, there was no significant decline, including due to a sharp increase in the cost of transportation from the Far East to the central part of the country. If at the beginning of 2021 the delivery was 12-13 rubles per kilogram, then in the fall it was already 25-27 rubles. The transportation subsidy provided by the Russian government did not work in full force, since it was only six rubles per kilogram and was allocated late.
– According to our estimates, in 2022 the production of pollock fillets and minced meat will continue to grow both in the sea and on the coast. This will be facilitated by the re-equipment of the fishing fleet and the launch of new modern vessels. Onshore factories will operate at full capacity. Pollock supplies to the domestic market will remain at a stable level. We hope that decisions will be made to increase government purchases of pollock, as well as a subsidy for its transportation to the central regions of the country will continue to operate. This will have a positive effect on domestic consumption and demand, – predicts Alexey Buglak.
At the same time, fishermen will continue to look for new markets abroad. According to the head of the All-Russian Association of Fisheries Enterprises, Entrepreneurs and Exporters German Zverev, the current situation confirmed the correctness of the ADM leadership, which several years ago began to certify the fishery according to the MSC ecological standard, which opened the way for Russian pollock to Europe.