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Russia's Fishing Fleets and Fisheries Enjoying a Sanctions-Driven Boom

Greater investment has led to record fish catch in 2018

Russia will record a fish catch in 2018 of over 5mn tonnes — a post Soviet record, Vasily Sokolov, deputy head of the Russian Fishery Agency, told reporters on November 20.

This year, the sturgeon catch in Russia reached 675,000, which, according to Sokolov, was an absolute record. 

"This is an absolute historical record for the entire history of record keeping. Fishing in the Far East has been underway for more than 100 years, this has not happened yet," he said.

In fact, the catch is up nearly two-fold from 2017 and according to Sokolov will lead to the reduction of red caviar prices. "There has been about 20,000 tonnes of caviar produced, and while there is no definitive data, it may be more. The total market for caviar consumption is about 12,000 to 14,000 tonnes per year. So, there is a significant stock," he said, adding that prices may fall by as much as 40% as a result.

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Fishing has been a booming industry in the last few years as businesses began to systematically invest into the industry in the hope of cashing in on Russians' love of fish.

Russian Aquaculture, the leading domestic producer of salmon that SPO’ed on the Moscow Exchange in 2017, plans to double its production by 2025 and has been a trail blazer in the business.

And the business has also attracted the interest of some of Russia’s most successful businessmen. Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich has invested in Russia’s burgeoning fish industry. Company Dalnee acquired 25% in South Sakhalin fishing company Poronay in February, linking the owners of the company Efim Malkin (80%) and Irina Panchenko (20%) to Abramovich’s team.

The state has also pushed the development of the sector with an initiative to e-auction 50% of the crab fishing quotas for 2018-2019, launched in August, to create conditions for the entry of new players into the sector, Vedomosti daily said on August 24 citing an official government decree.

Food in general has become a major export industry in Russia in the last year, partly thanks to the combination of Russian sanctions on EU imports and heavy state investment into the sector. Food exports already hit a record high in 2017 and will likely extend these gains this year as well.

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