Subjects of discussion at the meeting included the need to amend the laws regarding registration of small vessels and changing the frequency of vessel inspections, as well as the question of designating and defining coastal fishing grounds and marine bio-resource types.
* * *
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Krainy, I was talking with Mr Sokolov about a law that was passed, or rather, the amendments that were introduced to the corresponding law in 2012, pertaining to registering small vessels. Mr Krainy reported that this caused certain hardships for vessels owners – both individuals and companies. I have already discussed this with the Minister and I know you have discussed this topic and this problem together. What suggestions can you offer?
Director of the Federal Agency For Fishery andrei Krainy: Mr Putin, here are the issues that caused the greatest inconvenience. You see, the law automatically included non-self-propelled small, unmanned vessels up to 12 meters long that sail without a crew: these include Kungas and examination vessels. One suggestion the Minister and I agreed on is to exempt these vessels from certification and registration, since we are not talking about people’s safety.
The second suggestion we came up with involves the following problem: the list of domestic waterways was compiled in 2002, but some of our rivers – for example, all the rivers in Kamchatka peninsula, Lake Khanka, and the upper streams of the Ussuri river – did not make it onto that list.
Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov: There is no boat traffic there.
Andrei Krainy: Exactly. Since there is no boat traffic there, but there is fishing. So we have a kind of legal dilemma. On the one hand, the Transport Ministry, the river vessels register and their regional branches do not register our vessels because they are not included on the list, but on the other hand, the ideology of the amendment you mentioned intended for the Transport Ministry to be responsible for registering commercial vessels, while the Russian Emergencies Ministry’s State Inspectorate for Small Vessels would be responsible for non-profit vessels registration. As a result, some of our territory is not subject to vessels registration; our suggestion is therefore to include those rivers on our list of domestic waterways, so that our vessels can undergo registration.
And a third suggestion. The volume of work involved is enormous, but not every Russian region has a river registry branch. This compounds the problems. In other words, if an inspector travels somewhere, his trip is paid by those whom he is registering. We suggest improving the registration process through the State Inspectorate for Small Vessels by the end of the year.
In order not to interrupt the salmon fishing season (it’s red salmon fishing season right now, and it pertains to our second problem; if I may, I will discuss it a little later), of the 7,000 vessels being used for this fishing season, only about 3,200 have been registered. If a decision is made to allow the use of Emergencies Ministry registration, we will be fully capable of dealing with this problem within the next six months.
Vladimir Putin: (to Maxim Sokolov) You don’t mind?
Maxim Sokolov: No, we don’t mind. It is in effect from the moment that registration is completed. It’s just that the registration will expire a little earlier, but we can extend it.
Vladimir Putin: And we have to lower the cost of this registration significantly: it has grown manifold.
Andrei Krainy: Five-fold, Mr Putin.
Maxim Sokolov: No, the registration cost itself has not increased: the [registration authorities] are collecting a fee of one thousand roubles [$30], just as they did before.
Andrei Krainy: The state duty – 1,000 rubles – remains unchanged.
Vladimir Putin: Listen, people don’t care what it’s called. If you reach into their pockets, if you are forcing them to pay more, it’s not important what the payment is called.
Andrei Krainy: Today, it costs an average of five thousand rubles; the State Inspectorate for Small Vessels payment was one thousand rubles.
Vladimir Putin: First of all, let’s come back to this level of registration cost. Second, we are to ease people’s access to registration. How can this be done from a regulatory standpoint?
Maxim Sokolov: We have to make amendments to not require registration for non-self-propelled small vessels; we have to amend the Merchant Shipping Code and the Inland Water Transport Code.
Vladimir Putin: And how will you do this, if [the draft law] has already been passed by the State Duma?
“You should sign a corresponding regulatory enactment between the two ministries – the Transport Ministry and the Emergencies Ministry – on how you are mutually delegating certain powers that are granted to you by this law, in the absence of the necessary network for large-scale work within the nation’s territory.”
Maxim Sokolov: We will make these amendments during the hearing process, during [the State Duma] fall session, I think.
Vladimir Putin: But the fishing season is starting now.
Andrei Krainy: Mr Putin, if we, or rather, you, make the decision that small vessels can continue operating with existing Emergencies Ministry’s registration until the end of the year, it would solve the problem and they could calmly finish their work.
Vladimir Putin: But the law has already taken effect.
Andrei Krainy: The law has taken effect.
Maxim Sokolov: The law came into effect last year.
Vladimir Putin: So how are you going to handle this? In other words, is there a way out? Or do you simply suggest not abiding by the law?
Maxim Sokolov: We cannot suggest that a law should be breached.
Vladimir Putin: Well in that case, what do we do? The Director of the Agency for Fishery says we should help people during the fishing season, which is now. But you can only make amendments [to the respective law] in the fall.
Maxim Sokolov: In this case, if you will, all we can do is enact a special set of procedures wherein we will declare that the registration documents issued by the State Inspectorate for Small Vessels shall be accepted by our supervising authorities and the Federal Marine and River Transport Agency or the Federal Agency for Transport Supervision will not object to that.
Vladimir Putin: You should then sign a corresponding regulatory enactment between the two ministries – the Transport Ministry and the Emergencies Ministry – on how you are mutually delegating certain powers that are granted to you by this law, in the absence of the necessary network for large-scale work within the nation’s territory, and submit a document to me requesting to make respective amendments to current regulations.
Maxim Sokolov: Understood, Mr President, that will be done.
Vladimir Putin: But this must be done quickly, right now, within the next few days.
Andrei Krainy: Mr Putin, the law stipulates yearly registration. Given that this is ultimately a burden for everyone, we suggest that this registration be required every three years which is standard global practice.
Vladimir Putin: I have no problem with this, you are the ones regulating this situation.
Maxim Sokolov: It can be done for small vessels; since it will not decrease the level of safety.
Vladimir Putin: Very well.
Andrei Krainy: Mr President, there is one other problem, if I may. We have begun discussing the red salmon fishing season, which is underway. Kamchatka peninsula has already taken in 15,000 tonnes of fish. The problem is as follows. Coastal fishing does not permit production overload. You cannot do anything with the fish that is caught: you cannot freeze it, you cannot chop off the heads – the fish caught must be taken to the port. Given the geography [of Kamchatka], if people are fishing in the east, for example, that’s 1,000 miles away from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, which results in constant problems and fines, although the fishermen are doing their work legally, with a license.
An adjustment was made. There were six draft laws. The draft law we agreed on earlier with the Federal Security Service was very simple and had a direct effect. We simply described what cannot be done in coastal fishing: production of canned food and filets is prohibited, and everything else is allowed. Unfortunately, a version was passed wherein the Government of the Russian Federation sets the areas where this can be done, and the types of aquatic bio-resources involved – in other words, they have to be listed. The problem is that you signed the law on July 2, it was published on July 3, and the deadline is July 14. If the Government does not specify the respective fishing areas by July 14, then the fishing fleet currently accepting and freezing red salmon will become illegitimate. So I am requesting that you issue instructions to issue this Government ruling within the next five days; otherwise, the red salmon season will be disrupted.
Vladimir Putin: Certainly, I will discuss this with my colleagues; I think they do understand the situation. Nobody seems to have any objections, this is simply a bureaucratic matter, right? I believe they understand the situation unfolding right now for the fishermen and will resolve the problem swiftly.