• 2023 July 6 13:17

    Fish catch in Russia by the year end will exceed 5 million tonnes, fishing association says

    At the same time, the previously expected decline in profits will slow down.

    The fish catch by Russian fishermen in the first half of the year increased by 3.3% on the same period last year to 2.5 million tonnes. At the same time, pollock catch increased by 6.7% (to 1,258,000 tonnes), herring – by 1.2% (237,000 tonnes), and the cod catch decreased by 15% to about 220,000 tonnes. It is expected that by the 2023 year end, the total catch will exceed 5 million tonnes, and the financial situation of the industry will improve for a number of reasons, the IAA PortNews correspondent reports citing VARPE.

    The figures were announced by German Zverev, President of the Russian Association of Fishery Enterprises, Entrepreneurs and Exporters (VARPE) at a briefing with journalists. The main factor in the sector’s growth in the first half of 2023 was the catch of pollock, which provided half of the annual revenue.

    “The six-month pollock catch in the Sea of Okhotsk increased by 6.7% to 1,258,000 tonnes with a total allowable catch limit of 2 million tonnes. The remaining volume will be caught in the Bering Sea in the autumn. These results were achieved for several reasons. Ice and storm conditions appeared to be more favorable than in previous years. The main share of pollock was caught in February, and by the end of March the fishing fleet began to switch to herring catch. The success of the fishery was influenced by the deployement of new factory freezer trawler of ST-192 and ST-193 series built in Russia, as well as a pair built in Turkey. In addition, it was possible to reduce costs by using new trawl equipment. The Atlant Kaliningrad trawls made it possible to reduce the amount of fishing effort by 15%; such trawls began to be used three years ago, and now half of the fleet is equipped with them,” German Zverev was quoted as saying.

    Commercial efficiency was achieved thanks to a change in the structure of output and favorable market conditions.

    “The share of pollock fillets has decreased from 70,000 tonnes in 2022 to 48,000 tonnes, while the share of surimi has increased fourfold to 22,000 tonnes on ships and 6,000 tonnes at onshore plants. This is due to the difficulty of selling pollock fillets in Europe and the demand for surimi in Japan. At the end of the year, surimi exports to Japan should grow from 27,000 tonnes to 50-60,000 tonnes. For comparison, the surimi supply from the United States to Japan is 83,000 tonnes,” Zverev says, noting that about 16% of pollock revenue was provided by caviar, which is sold for $8-8.5 per 1 kg.

    In addition to pollock, the growth and export prospects are demonstrated by the herring segment. 237,000 tonnes were caught, which is 1.2% more than last year. The forecast for the year is 400,000 to 420,000 tonnes, he said.

    “Herring is in demand in the domestic market and has prospects for expansion in the external market, primarily in Africa. In addition to the traditional Nigeria, where Russian herring was exported through the UN, the Egypt market is of interest, where about 10,000 tonnes have already been sold. But this is three times less than supplies from Norway, which accounts for more than half of herring exports to Egypt,” he added.

    At the same time, over six months, cod catch has decreased by 15% to about 220,00 tonnes, due to a decrease in production in the north to 140,000 tonnes.

    The main bets for the H2, 2023 are made on the catch of three types of fish: salmon (at the moment, 11,000 tonnes of sockeye salmon have been caught in Kamchatka, 140,000 tonnes of pink salmon are expected), sardine ivasi (the plan is 300,000 tonnes) and mackerel (with a total decrease from last year's figure of 220,000 tonnes, two thirds of which are caught in the north, but with an increase of 10-15% in the Far East to about 80,000 tonnes), Mr. Zverev said.

    The financial result of the year, according to the head of VARPE, will be that the decline in profits will slow down due to successful fishing and the depreciation of the ruble.

    “Volations in the foreign exchange market will have a positive impact on financial performance, but it is far too early to make forecasts, since it is not clear how long the current RUB exchange rate will remain. It is important that many enterprises have made certain changes in their loan portfolio, and today the share of foreign currency loans in debt is not three quarters as in 2018, but about half. If last year the drop in profit was 32% to 158 billion rubles, and in the first quarter of this year there was also a decrease by 35% to 31.1 billion rubles, then now we predict a slowdown in the rate of decline in profits, it will be less sharp than expected. Much depends on the salmon season, the catch of Ivasi and mackerel,” German Zverev concluded.

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