President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
Mr Shestakov, as far as I am aware, the fishing industry has been working at a steady pace despite the coronavirus restrictions, and your figures for this year are comparable to last year’s results. I would like you to tell me about this in detail. I would also like to hear about licensing for investment purposes: what is the progress on the construction of fishing vessels? How are you monitoring the situation? And one more subject, which is not simple at all, I know, has to do with research vessels. I am aware of the funding problems in this sector. Let us talk about all this in detail.
Head of Federal Agency for Fishery Ilya Shestakov: Thank you, Mr President.
We have prepared a presentation. Overall, I would like to note that the industry has been working constantly even amid the pandemic, as our fish catch forecasts show. We expect this year’s catch to be comparable to last year’s figure, around 5 million tonnes. The salmon season was not very good this year, but we will compensate for the salmon shortfall with an additional catch of Japanese pilchards, mackerel and Pollock.
Vladimir Putin: By the way, in June this year I instructed the Government, Russian Railways and Rosatom to formulate proposals and take measures to minimise the cost of fish deliveries from the Far East to European Russia.
Ilya Shestakov: Mr President, I would like to report that our working group is dealing with this, and that a carrier ship with a cargo of salmon has set sail from Kamchatka. Unfortunately, it will be the only run, because of the salmon shortfall this year, among other things.
In general, if we speak of logistics and infrastructure problems, we are working closely enough with Russian Railways. There is understanding and a well-established schedule for provision of rail cars. What I mean here is that there are no problems when it comes to the delivery of fish goods at the moment. We certainly regard the Northern Sea Route as an opportunity to diversify the routes, when a large volume of fish needs to be delivered during the salmon fishing season and seaport facilities are overburdened.
In general, I would like to say that the 2020 economic indicators in the industry are stable. The collected taxes and fees increased by 13.5 percent. It is important to note that the average salary across the industry rose by 7.2 percent. Overall, the average pay in the fishing industry in the first half of the year amounted to 91,000 rubles, we are in third place among all sectors of the economy, after finance and mining; this is a very good indicator.
I would also like to say a few words about aquaculture. It is a point of growth for us. After the law on aquaculture was adopted, production has gained a good pace. We expect an increase of 17 percent this year. Last year it was 20 percent. Salmon production is going to double by the end of 2020, to as much as 100,000 tonnes.
I would also like to mention the interim results of using the investment quotas mechanism. Overall, the construction of 107 vessels has now been announced: 56 vessels within the investment quotas, and another 35 crab vessels will be built following the crab auction; and the rest will be built due to a support measure implemented by the Ministry of Industry and Trade – the ministry is compensating 30 percent of the construction costs. In addition, 25 onshore factories will be built; to date11 have been completed. Of the 107 vessels, four have already been delivered to the customer, and 11 have been launched.
Unfortunately, there are certain problems related to the construction deadlines, but we are working on rescheduling things with the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and shipyards are expected to meet the new deadlines.
Vladimir Putin: Which shipyards are falling behind?
Ilya Shestakov: Actually, Mr President, all shipyards are falling behind, the delays range from six months to two years, and the situation differs from shipyard to shipyard. The Vyborg Shipyard was the main problem, with delays of up to two years. We have now set new timeframes together with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and fishermen, and shipyard managers promise to stick to them.
Vladimir Putin: Please keep an eye on the situation and respond on time. Overall, companies now have enough contracts, and it is necessary to set the timeframes accordingly.
Ilya Shestakov: We are actively dealing with this matter together with the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Mr President, I would like to say that the mechanism has now proved sufficiently effective. By manufacturing these vessels, we can upgrade 65 percent of capacity in the Northern basin, as well as 25 percent in the Far Eastern basin. We suggest continuing this programme, with due consideration for the shipyard’s capabilities, and allocating extra investment quotas for the Far Eastern basin from 2022 because regional renewal rates are not so impressive.
Here are some vessels now under construction and those that have already been handed over to clients. Besides, here are some brand-new fish-processing plants. Actually, those are the plants you opened on Shikotan Island – currently the most advanced fish-processing plants.
Regarding the research fleet, we will launch construction of two medium-size research vessels, and we have drawn up the design documentation for large research vessels. Unfortunately, there is a financial problem.
Vladimir Putin: How much do you need?
Ilya Shestakov: The first ship is estimated at 21 billion rubles. In all, we planned to build three ships worth 66 billion rubles.
Vladimir Putin: I know that the Government is allocating funds, and a certain amount is lacking there.
Ilya Shestakov: We are now awarding contracts for two medium-size vessels, and funding has been allocated for this purpose. So far, we have not received a single kopeck for large vessels.
Vladimir Putin: We will work on this.
Ilya Shestakov: We also conducted research in Antarctica upon your instructions. An important outcome of this project is that several companies have expressed interest in building three modern vessels for Antarctica at domestic shipyards. In other words, within four or five years we will be able to harvest some 300,000 tonnes of krill there for processing.
We are also repairing the mooring walls for commercial fishing vessels; we have repaired over 11 kilometres of mooring structures during this period. Private investment amounted to some 3 billion rubles. We have built three refrigerators with a total volume of 9,000 tonnes within the framework of investment obligations.
We are also working with RusHydro and Inter RAO on the reproduction of marine biological resources. Overall, our plants are working to capacity. We are also implementing an ambitious programme to build additional facilities for the reproduction of marine biological resources financed with extra-budgetary funds.
Vladimir Putin: This is good.
Ilya Shestakov: I would like to add briefly that in line with your instructions we are restoring the population of Baikal cisco. Additional funds have been allocated for reproduction and protection measures. We can report positive changes already: the decline in the cisco population has stopped, and we have even noticed a minor increase. Therefore, we generally believe that commercial cisco harvesting could resume in 2023–2025.
Vladimir Putin: Was it this project that Steven Seagal took part in?
Ilya Shestakov: Yes.
Vladimir Putin: Please give my thanks to him.
Ilya Shestakov: Thank you, I will.
As I have already reported, this year the agency’s tall ships with some 600 naval cadets on board took part in an around-the-world expedition dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the discovery of the Antarctica.
It went well, and the three Russian tall ships conducted a regatta in an area close to Antarctica. The foreign members of the expedition who were on board these vessels made highly positive comments about the race.
Mr President, the only new element this year is absolutely unique: we decided not to complete the around-the-world expedition this year because of the coronavirus lockdown, and STS Sedov [one of the world’s largest sail training vessels] is sailing from Vladivostok to Kaliningrad via the Northern Sea Route.