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23 Mar, 2009 00:47

Fishing industry looks for bigger catch on investment

The fishing sector has shown strong growth in the first two months of the year – up more than 20 %. However, the Russian market for seafood still drags behind other fishing nations because of low capacity and demand.

The Russian fishing industry needs more than $600 million in loans. But banks are not lending to fishing companies, even though they are getting state money to support the real economy. They are unwilling to accept shipping vessels as security for loans, according to the Head of the federal Fishing Agency, Andrey Krainy.

“All the banks that received government money must lend to the industry – that’s beyond debate! But now we have to literally squeeze the money out. We’ll raise this issue at the next government session.”

Fish from one storehouse goes to Moscow’s premium restaurants and shops.
Tons of fresh seafood arrives here every morning. Most of it comes from the Mediterranean. Russia has huge potential, but low sales volumes. The problem is poor infrastructure and distribution.

Despite its potential as a sea power, Russia imports up to 90 % of its fresh fish. Limited demand and low market capacity are dragging fisheries in coastal areas, especially in the Far East into stagnation. To develop the industry and boost exports, Aleksandr Bandyukov, General director of Sea Style 21 says Russia plans to launch a commodities exchange for fish by the end of the year.

“To establish the market for fresh fish we have to focus both on domestic and external markets. We can supply Far Eastern seafood to neighbouring Japan, Korea and China. The fish exchange will be a profitable option for all parties involved – for small and medium fishing companies and for customers.”

Online trading will help fishermen meet their customers and help establish sustainable prices. It will also help replace imports with domestic fish. But to actually start trading Russia needs to update its fleet of fishing vessels and invest a lot more in storage facilities.