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FISHING AND AQUACULTURE OF RUSSIA

Дата публикации: 23 сентября 2021
Автор(ы): Gennady MATISHOV, Pavel BALYKIN, Yelena PONOMARYOVA
Публикатор: Научная библиотека Порталус
Рубрика: ЭКОЛОГИЯ
Источник: (c) Science in Russia, №1, 2012, C.64-70
Номер публикации: №1632392310


Gennady MATISHOV, Pavel BALYKIN, Yelena PONOMARYOVA, (c)

by Acad. Gennady MATISHOV, director of the Murmansk Marine Biological Institute, Kola Science Center, RAS; Pavel BALYKIN, Dr. Sc. (Biol.), Chief Researcher, Southern Research Center, RAS; Yelena PONOMARYOVA, Dr. Sc. (Biol.), Head of the Department of Marine Biological Resources of the Southern Seas' Basin, Southern Research Center, RAS

 

For the population of marine countries fish and seafood are the staple diet. The search for new fishing grounds, commercial fish stock assessment is an important socio-economic problem. But how to harvest fish without irreversibly depleting its stock? This is the theme of the discussion brought up by the authors of an article which we publish with the permission of Vestnik Rossiiskoi akademii nauk journal.

 

Russian fish catch was 3.7 and 4.1 mln tons respectively in 2009 and 2010, and significantly less than during the Soviet period. The highest catches were recorded in the 1980s, when they annually reached 11.4 mln tons and the Soviet Union took turns with Japan as the most productive producer based on this indicator.

 

Then the annual consumption of fish products per capita reached 22-24 kg, which corresponds to the recommended nutrition standards. According to the assessment of the Federal Agency for Fishery, in 2009 the figure dropped to 13.2 kg. The agency's administration explains this reduction of fish consumption by termination of the Russian fleet operations outside its own economic zone. Indeed, the Soviet fishing fleet had caught 5.2-5.6 mln tons of seafood in other areas of the world oceans. At the same time, the Soviet Union managed to avoid fierce competition for marine raw materials with other countries because it mainly harvested such fish (herring, horse mackerel, mackerel, capelin, true sardine, sardinella, hake, etc.) that provided the greatest catch. Now, when Russia has become a country with a market economy, competition with other countries for ocean bioresources is inevitable.

 

For a long time the Azov and Caspian Basins had served as the major areas of domestic fisheries, and they supplied such valuable species of fish as sturgeon, white salmon, trout, perch, bream, etc. Only with the development of ocean fishing, after World War II, the marine species such as herring, cod, and flatfish have begun to dominate the catches of the Soviet Union. By that time, the fish resources in the Southern Seas have decreased

 
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Comparison of qualitative and quantitative composition of catches in the Sea of Azov on the annual basis.

 

due to overfishing. Whereas in the past the catches had reached 400-600 ths tons, in the present time they fell more than 10 times to their former volume.

 

Catches in such a small body of water as the Sea of Azov had reached 300 ths tons. Until the middle of the last century, only valuable fish had been harvested and in the excessive quantities too, as the subsequent development has demonstrated. The qualitative change occurred in 1950s-1960s, when the overall effects of overfishing was further upset by a large scale harvesting of Azov steers (the feed of beluga and sturgeon) in the amount of 70-92 ths tons per year, and by other negative factors. The bottom trawling of Azov steers resulted in the reduction of sturgeon forage base due to the collapse of bottom biocenoses. At present, the basis of biological resources of the Azov Sea is small pelagic fish species and Far Eastern mullet haarder, an acclimatized type.

 

Traditionally, the most valuable target species in the Caspian and Azov Seas has been the sturgeon. The highest intensity of its fishing in the Azov basin was reached by the middle of the 19th century when 10-14 ths tons were produced annually. In the 20th century, the maximum catch of 5.4 ths tons was recorded in 1936.

 

Science in Russia, No. 1, 2012

 
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Stages of degradation of commercial fish stocks in the Barents and Norwegian seas.

 

In 1995, the official sturgeon catch was only 790 tons; by 2000-2002 it fell to 20-70 tons and now does not exceed 2-4 tons. Over the past 150 years a catastrophic decline in catches of this fish--more than 1,000 times-has occurred.

 

In the Caspian Basin, the maximum catches were recorded from 1900 to 1915 (24.4-30.0 ths tons) and also from 1975 to 1985 (23.8-27.0 ths tons). In the 1950s, an average annual catch of sturgeon in the Caspian Sea was 13.0 ths tons, which was almost three times lower than at the beginning of the 20th century. However, by the start of the cascade dams' construction on the Volga River, the natural stocks of sturgeon have been largely lost. Due to overfishing of all types of catches the outcome in the 1960s and the first half of the 1970s did not exceed 18.6 ths tons. The rise of fishing in 1975-1985 was entirely due to the activity of fishing enterprises. The collapse of companies dealing with artificial reproduction of resources in the 1990s and poaching put the sturgeon population of the Caspian and Azov seas on the brink of extinction. For the revival of stocks of sturgeon in the Azov and Caspian seas, the output of the fry should be much higher than it is now-200-300 mln specimens.

 

Because of overfishing, the issue of banning fishing in the Barents Sea has been raised repeatedly. The crisis in commercial bioresources had already developed there during the period of the Soviet planned economy. During the heyday of ocean fishing, fisheries caught up to 1.5 mln tons of cod and 3-4 mln tons of capelin. Overfishing in the 1950s-1990s led to the collapse of the stocks.

 

For Atlantic cod, production plan figures for a 60-year period were calculated for the very first time. The yield was not supposed to exceed 24 percent of the biomass of adult specimens. Similar situation developed with commercial invertebrates of the Barents Sea. In the 1980s, maximum catches of shrimp--140 ths tons--were achieved. Then its resources degraded drastically. Belated fishing bans were to no avail.

 

Thus, the general tendency for the regions of intense fishing is the restructuring of the catch: it is based now on the smaller, previously underharvested species. This was the result of intervention on upper trophic levels of marine ecosystems of the European seas and of the serious breach of natural reproduction of fish.

 

A marked alteration of species composition of marine biota in recent decades has occurred in part due to the introduction of alien species, and because of other man-made causes.

 

Nowadays, major domestic fisheries are concentrated in the Sea of Okhotsk, the Bering and Barents Seas. In all fishing areas of the ocean industrial fishing is the main destructive power of marine ecosystems; it is by no means a mythical but a real threat that can completely ruin the natural reproduction cycles, and destroy the food chain and the gene pool of commercial biota.

 

Degradation of natural reproduction of game fish is the key issue of the European seas of Russia. In the

 
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Consequences of introduction of Kamchatka crab to the Barents Sea basin.

 

Soviet period, overfishing in the southern seas was compensated by large-scale factory reproduction of perch, bream, and sturgeon fry. At present, the remaining fish farms in the Caspian and Azov regions operate with archaic technology, the fry is not resilient and return of the factory fish does not exceed 2-4 percent.

 

Significant imbalance of the ecosystem was created by the introduction of alien species, particularly those from the Far East, during the Soviet period. 50 years ago, Kamchatka crab was introduced to the Barents Sea. The peak of its population of 30 mln specimens coincided with global warming at the beginning of the 21st century. The fate of crab ended with overfishing.

 

Far Eastern salmon now lives in the area spread from the coastline of Britain to the Pechora Bay. Bringing alien species into the northern pool without a proper forecast of the effects on the ecosystem brought more harm than good. Introduction of Far Eastern haarder into the Azov Sea may be considered biological contamination--it filled up the place that had been occupied by sturgeon and other valuable fish of the Azov Sea. From the socio-economical point of view Kamchatka crab, salmon, haarder may be considered a positive factor, however, in terms of a healthy ecosystem, these species are obviously harmful.

 

There are almost no fishing water zones around the world that are not regulated by international organizations. In addition, the increased environmental requirements for fisheries in the conventional areas of open sea should be also taken into account. Thus, even in case of return of the domestic fishing fleet to the remote areas of the ocean, it is unrealistic to expect the former volume of catch. According to an optimistic assessment of Rosrybolovstvo in such a case it would be possible to produce up to 2 mln tons per year, which is significantly less than in 1980s. Therefore, the issue of preservation and replenishing of domestic aquatic bioresources gain a particular significance. The experts estimate a possible volume of production in the Far Eastern basin at 5-6 mln tons, while in 2009 the official data was 2.7 mln tons, and with poaching and unreported catch it could be at least 3 mln tons. The last factor has a significant influence on all aquatic bioresources of the fishing pools of the country. Thus, according to Japanese customs

 
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The world products of fishing and aquaculture in the 20th century.

 

data, Russia exports 3-4 times more seafood than it is officially registered by domestic "guardians of the border". The picture of overfishing, despite the series of bans, points to a weak presence in the fishery practice of not only Russia but also Norway, Japan and other countries of the elements of the ecosystem management of commercial fish stocks.

 

In addition to illegal fishing, another source of unreliable statistics is an imperfection of the current approach to its regulation. The basis of management strategies of the rational use of marine resources in the majority of the economically developed countries, including Russia, is to determine the total allowable catch (TAC) for each target species although, in practice this approach often leads not to conservation of the stock but to its depletion. For example, the regulation by TAC led to overfishing of the Atlantic cod. This raises the question regarding substantiation of TAC quantities. The amendment to the law on fisheries that requires to destroy aquatic resources harvested solely for research has severely damaged research on the fishing industry resources. This decision aimed to counteract corruption and poaching. Now, every year 15-20 ths tons of fish and seafood must be liquidated without any benefit and at a huge cost. It harms science and contradicts the common sense. Would not it be better to donate fish to an organization that provides social security to population?

 

It should be also noted that obtaining quotas for research and educational purposes is associated with numerous bureaucratic obstacles to be surmounted each year. Meanwhile, fishing organizations of various forms of ownership enjoy fixed quotas for 10 years and fishing grounds in the Far East for 20 years. It would be more reasonable to allocate volumes and limits for scientific and educational purposes for at least 5 years to be able to plan ichthyological studies in advance.

 

To apply the concept of TAC for species is incorrect because the majority of existing commercial enterprises are not specialized. Analysis of data on the Russian fisheries in the Pacific has shown that really monospecific is only catching of Pacific saury, squid, herring, sardines, mollusks and sea urchins. All others can be considered at best mixed and in most cases--multispecific. The same situation exists in other fishing areas of our country. As the result, in certain types of fishing "by catches" exceed the main target by several times. This raises the question of the necessity of commercial forecasting on the multispecific basis, taking into account the life cycles, migration routes and trophic relations of common species of fish.

 

It should be noted that in the modern market oriented fishing fishermen are forced to increase profits by releasing undersized, damaged or simply unsatisfactory, according to the contract, fish. Thus, due to illegal and unrecorded catch, the exact amount of aquatic biore-sources harvested is virtually unknown.

 

Independent calculation of TAC for each "stock unit" cannot be the basis for environmental management, and many scientific publications stress the need for the radical revision of the fishing management principles. "Harvest" must be based on relationships of all the exploited elements of ecosystems. Right now, the issue of transition of fishing to the methodological basis of the

 
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ecosystem approach and the optimization of production from marine biocenosis rather than from currently used "reserve unit" approach is the first on the agenda. Depending on the present state of each of the Russian seas' ecosystem, a separate management strategy for bioresources production must be worked out.

 

In Russia, the scientists of Murmansk Marine Biological Institute (MMBI) of the RAS pioneered the ecosystem approach. 25 years ago, an integrated approach to the problem of the Barents Sea ecosystem was developed based on comprehensive knowledge of the biota and abiotic conditions: therefore the marine ecosystems have been studied for a considerable period of time. However, only in the recent years the idea of large marine ecosystems (LME) has become widely applied. Large marine ecosystems are areas of the World ocean characterized by specific bathymetry, hydrography, productivity, and trophic interactions. According to the internationally accepted criteria, LME cover coastal areas from river deltas and estuaries to the continental shelf and the outer limits of the major systems of currents, and include high-yield ocean areas of no less than 200 ths square km. International organizations sanctioned a scheme of division of the coastal waters of the oceans into 64 LME, within which there are concentrated more than 90 percent of bioresources. In the US, China and European countries, biological oceanography and fishing is largely based on the concept of Large Marine Ecosystems. It is mandatory to consider fish catching, biological productivity, pollution, socioeconomic and management issues.

 

It is clear that the restructuring of the country's fishing to the "ecosystem" rails is a rather complicated process. Is this possible at present with Rosrybolovstvo monopoly on all areas of regulated fishing activities? Obviously not, because despite the declared equality before the law, the Fishing Agency reserves the right to veto all proposals that go against the opinion of officials who obviously lack strategic outlook.

 

In marine fishing, there is a need to fix legislatively the requirement of the compulsory weighing of the catch, because the vessels engaged in the processing of the catch still determine its weight by counting from the final product, which creates opportunities for underestimating the catches. The range of other measures in each fishing area could be specific. Thus, the scientists of Polar Institute of Scientific Fishing and Oceanography offered three options for Barents Sea. For the western part of Bering Sea they developed a new scheme of commercial zoning, as well as proposals for restructuring of fishing, which can be regarded as steps towards an ecosystem approach-the so-called blocked multispe-cific quotas for fisheries, when a user's permit lists all types of target species that can be caught by the specified fishing gear or, as another measure, the regulation of the potential yield by limiting the term of the fishing season.

 

The most feasible way to increase real output of aqueous products would be aquaculture development in all forms. In marine countries, fish farming has been developing as an independent industry since the 1960s. Therefore, an urgent task of our country is to search for more efficient fish farming technologies that are adapted to domestic mentality. Today, the world fishing has reached its ceiling at about 100 mln tons per year. Under the conditions of weakening of natural bioreproduction, the only reasonable way is to develop aquaculture. In a quarter of a century, the commodity production volume in China, Japan, Norway, Peru, France, Turkey and countries of South-East Asia have reached 60 mln tons. China alone produces 32 mln tons annually.

 

Norway, which is located in the circumpolar region and is traditionally included into the world's leading nations as regards fishing, has achieved impressive successes. It grows up to 800 ths tons of salmon alone. Our neighbor in the Barents Sea has graphically demonstrated what can be achieved by rational mastering of oil and gas reserves and investing wisely in such specific commodity as breeding of salmon. In 2009, the total value of exports of aquaculture from Norway was $7.7 bln.

 

Russia's share in the world aquaculture production is very small. In the Azov-Black Sea basin, during the first ten years of the 21st century, the volume of fish-breeding has reached approximately 30 ths tons per year. In all Russian waters approximately 100-115 ths tons of fish are grown. As a result, Russian imports of fish annually just from Norway make up $800 mln. According to prognoses, by 2020, if the current trend continues, Russia's commercial fish production would be below 200 ths tons, which is a scanty sum as compared with other countries. The target of domestic breeding is mainly carp fish, whereas much more valuable sturgeon, whitefish and salmon make up an insignificant part.

 

With the increased volume of aquaculture, its impact on health of coastal marine ecosystems becomes more apparent. Two factors are well pronounced: one is pollution of bays and fjords by organic matter, and the other is "clogging" of wild (natural) populations of fish by aquafarm refugees. An illustrative example is salmon breeding off the western Norway coast. Sea farms maintain up to 350 mln individuals. During emergencies and storms, a certain amount of fish gets into the sea and rushes to wild salmon spawning sites in the rivers of the Kola Peninsula. The first instances of catches of alien fish from Norwegian farms were registered in 2001. The annual flow of invasive species reaches many thousands of individuals. The modified fish forces out the wild salmon from Murmansk spawning sites.

 

In our country, academic and research institutes develop innovations focused on aquaculture of marine and freshwater fishes. The Murmansk Marine Biological Institute works on experimental and pilot industrial development projects aimed at growing of cod, flounder

 
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Aquaculture products in Europe.

 

and other fish of the Barents Sea. Survival percentage of various fish species grown at high latitudes is between 26 to 66 percent. It is a good result, as sea fish with pelagic eggs is characterized by extremely high mortality during the early stages of development. According to experts' estimates, 8 ths tons of salmon, 3 ths tons of mussels, 4 ths tons of algae can be grown in the White Sea.

 

In the Barents Sea, the total area of waters which can be organized as sea farms is about 6 thousand hectares. Western Murman is a promising area for the complete system enterprises for commercial cultivation of Atlantic salmon, cod, halibut, haddock, Arctic char and sea flounder. Commercial cultivation of cold-water trout, cod, mussels and algae, Kamchatka crabs is also viable here. Most efficient and economically sound is to grow salmon and cod in sea cages.

 

The results of fundamental studies of sturgeon biology by the experts of SSC RAS in cooperation with the Astrakhan State Technical University have allowed to improve the technology of fish cultivation in closed water environment systems at every stage of the production process. New intensive technologies enable producers to obtain marketable products of an average weight of 1.5 kg in a year, 3 kg--in 2-3 years, and to grow sturgeon, which matures in 3-4 years and annually spawns. Our method of growing is more efficient than all other known approaches.

 

The developed technology is competitive and economically viable. In a short period of time, it allows achieving results that are 2-4 times superior to the Western models by such indicators as growth of useful products and decrease in mortality at all stages of the production cycle. In modular adjustable systems for industrial and farm enterprises, in addition to high-quality commercial products (meat of sturgeon, caviar), it is possible to receive planting material (larvae, fry). The introduction of our technology can create supporting points for farming and associated enterprises in the Azov and Caspian areas. It is currently used at 20 farms.

 

It is necessary to introduce effective measures to promote aquaculture (the law "On Aquaculture"), to have a target program of development of sturgeon breeding and a Russian network of cryobanks for biodiversity conservation and replenishment of the cultivated aquatic organisms and the improvement of the condition for the development of small and medium-sized enterprises in the fishing industry. The State public investment project in the amount of $1 bln for 10-15 years should be realized to make Russia once again a producer of black caviar. In general, we need, more than ever, a comprehensible long-term scientific and socio-economic policy in the field of commercial fish-breeding.

 

Today the state should decide on a policy: either we are going to eat the same food as our ancestors did and therefore we must restore the local wildlife, or we would be forced to bring in imported products. It's time to determine our goals.

Опубликовано на Порталусе 23 сентября 2021 года

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