2019 October 22
Russian Crab, the new shellfish harvesting arm owned by Russian Fishery Company’s (RFC) Gleb Frank, plans to build 10 new vessels after winning around 10,000 metric tons in crab quotas in the country’s recent auctions.
Companies in the Russian Crab group won 10 out of 35 quota lots sold at the recent government auction for catching five species of crabs (including blue crab, horsehair crab and opilio [snow] crab) in three zones, the Sea of Okhotsk, the Bering Sea, Western Kamchatka. A company spokeswoman declined to reveal the spend on the auctions to Undercurrent News, which does not include the vessels.
The next step for the company is to build vessels, the spokeswoman said. Tender winners are committed to build crab vessels of 50-meters and up.
“One of our priority tasks is to construct 10 crab vessels. According to the law, auction winners have 180 days to enter into shipbuilding contracts. We carefully studied the capabilities of Russian shipyards. We are planning to make final decisions on choosing a construction site and complete the contract campaign within the time period specified by the government decree,” she said.
Although the exact volume depends on the total allowable catch (TAC) set by the government, the 2019 TAC would mean an additional volume of 10,500t for the group’s crab business, a spokeswoman for the company told Undercurrent.
According to official auction data on the Far East crab auction seen by Undercurrent, Russian Crab spent RUB 33.85 billion ($534 million) in the auction on 9,450t of quota, somewhat lower than the level of RUB 38bn given in a Russian media report from bne IntelliNews.
In total, the Russian Crab group received about 15% of the total volume of crab harvested in Russia, she said. Back in 2017, RFC owner Frank acquired around 2,500t of crab.
A trap full of snow crabs being lifted from the Bering Sea, in Alaska.. Photograph by Chris Miller.
Other Far East winners
According to the official data on the results of the auction for crab in the Far East, Interrybflot was the next biggest spender behind Russian Crab. Interrybflot spent RUB 25.56bn on buying 5,350t of quota.
Then, Antey Group spent RUB 13.95bn on 3,138t of quota and Sofco Group invested RUB 7.14bn for 2,100t. Nakhodka Active Marine Fishery Base invested RUB 4.08bn in 1,050t of quota, with Nikita Kozhemyako, the son of the governor of the Primorsk region, spending RUB 3.57bn on the same amount.
According to the bne IntelliNews article, Antey and the Nort-West Fishing Consortium won most of the quotas in the northern basin, for RUB 24.6bn and RUB 18.2bn, respectively. In total, new investors put around $2bn into the Russian crab quota auctions, according to bne IntelliNews.
New Russian crab boss
Just before the news of the results of the crab auctions broke, Fedor Kirsanov, CEO of RFC, told Undercurrent there is a new top executive for the group's crab business, after the exit of Roman Linin earlier this year.
“Over the previous two years, we have developed the crab business, its operational processes and infrastructure. Today it is a separate business consolidated within the group, Russian Crab, which Dmitry Trubnikov will lead,” he said.
Trubnikov has a diverse business history, with his most recent role being chief financial officer of TransContainer, a large Russian intermodal container transportation company.