Nature, the Economy and People Identified as Three Pillars of Global Environmental Management at the Plenary Session of Global Fishing Forum 2019

The III Global Fishery Forum began in St. Petersburg on 10 July. The business programme was launched by the plenary session “Ocean of Opportunities: Nature, Economy and People.”  The organizer is the Federal Agency for Fisheries; the Forum’s Operator is the Roscongress Foundation.

Dmitry Patrushev, Minister of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, welcomed the participants and congratulated them on the start of the Forum, pointing to the global importance of the issues the Forum is to address.  

“The Global Fishery Forum is unique as it places equal emphasis on the scientific, economic, legal and social aspects of use of aquatic biological resources and development of fisheries,” Dmitry Patrushev stressed. “Today we are facing new challenges and even the world’s biggest powers are unable to cope with them on their own,” he added.

The most important areas of international cooperation in the fishing industry, he believes, are the search for new reserves of raw materials in the oceans, better legal regulation of fisheries activities at the national and international levels, and collaboration in the fight against IUU fishing.

Last year, Russian fishermen set a record for the last 25 years, capturing more than 5 million tonnes. Yet Russia still has major reserves available for development of both fisheries and aquaculture, the Minister emphasized. For these purposes, the government allocates significant amounts out of the federal budget. So, in 2018, the financing amounted to RUB 12.3 billion and it is expected to be RUB 2 billion more in 2019. As a result of implementing the Strategy for Development of the Fisheries Complex in Russia, the industry’s contribution to GDP should reach RUB 600 billion.

For his part, Ilya Shestakov, Deputy Minister of Agriculture of the Russian Federation and Head of the Federal Agency for Fisheries, spoke in detail about the role interstate cooperation may play in the development of world fisheries, including at the Forum.  

“Last year, we discussed the world fishery prospects up to 2050 and realized that, despite the global challenges, including the rapid growth of the Earth’s population, global warming and the crisis in the management of the world fisheries, we have real prospects not only for maintaining the current catch level but also increasing it many times over without compromising the sustainability of marine ecosystems,” Ilya Shestakov said.

The Forum’s theme this year – “Ocean of Opportunities: Nature, Economy and People” – is about finding a balance between the three main aspects of environmental management: natural, social and economic. This requires new approaches to managing the world’s fish resources, the Head of the Federal Agency for Fisheries noted.

Thanks to scientific research, new strategic reserves of raw materials for fisheries in the World Ocean, such as mesopelagic fish, Antarctic krill, deep-sea fish and invertebrates, have already been identified, Ilya Shestakov pointed out. According to expert estimates, their inclusion in fishery will increase the value of the world catch of bioresources up to 200–250 million tonnes a year, which exceeds the current annual catch by all countries almost 2.5 times over.

He also elaborated on the Russian government’s ideas about mechanisms for developing the industry. “Orientating producers on increasingly deep processing of products, both for export and for domestic consumers, can be seen as a strategic priority,” Ilya Shestakov stated. “This is being encouraged at the government level, including through investment quotas. New state-of-the-art trawler-processors and processing plants will make it possible to move to manufacture of products with a high added value in the near future. By increasing the share of such products, we will increase our contribution to Russia’s GDP to USD 10 billion. At the same time, a new programme for upgrading the production base will improve working conditions for fishermen and their safety,” he said.

At the same time, he noted that development of the fishing industry should be in harmony with social, economic and environmental factors, avoiding both excessive fishing pressure and sudden, emotional, scientifically unsound decisions to ban extraction of aquatic biological resources in certain areas.

“It is essential to maintain an optimal balance between these areas. Then we will get a multiplier effect in the fishing industry, in the economy and in the social sphere,” Ilya Shestakov concluded.

Marcio Castro de Souza, Senior Fishery Officer at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), spoke about the FAO GLOBEFISH project for collecting and disseminating information on the situation on fish markets. He said the mission of the project was to help countries make effective use of their natural and productive resources for developing the fisheries sector. “The unified database includes data on catch, production volumes and trends, exports and imports by different countries, fish production costs, the market situation and other information required for effective commercial management and international regulation of the fisheries sector,” the FAO official reported.

Suam Kim, President of the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC), presented a detailed report on use of salmon resources, covering the history of fishing, the general state of stocks in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, the volume and social impact of their use, and fishing problems that have emerged in recent years. These included the risk of overfishing in certain areas, climate change, parasite infestation and some environmental aspects of pasture cultivation. The main role in solving these problems is played by scientific research, the scientist stressed. “Russia proposed that NPAFC should conduct winter and summer surveys of the entire North Pacific Ocean in 2021. We will draw the world’s attention with this bold proposal, which would allow us to fill the widest gap in our understanding of the biology and ecology of Pacific salmon –distribution in the high seas in winter and the factors affecting survival,” Suam Kim said.

Turkish Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bekir Pakdemirli shared his country’s experience in regulating the fishing industry and managing aquatic bioresources. So, Turkey has managed to involve private farms actively in restoring previously undermined aquatic bioresources through state support mechanisms, according to the Minister. The export of Turkish fish products will reach USD 2 billion this year, while the culture of fish consumption remains high in the country, he stressed.

For their part, the Governor of the Kamchatka Territory Vladimir Ilyukhin and the Governor of the Arkhangelsk Region Igor Orlov focused on the fishing industry’s achievements in the regions, the potential for socio-economic development of the territories as part of fishery clusters, new opportunities associated with use of the Northern Sea Route, and priority areas in developing the regional fishery complex.