Posted 10 декабря 2021,, 11:28

Published 10 декабря 2021,, 11:28

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37

Russian crab catchers in Norway: how to get 20 thousand a day and work honestly

Russian crab catchers in Norway: how to get 20 thousand a day and work honestly

10 декабря 2021, 11:28
Фото: Р. Бесолов
In the Murmansk region, you can go to jail for illegal fishing of crabs in the Barents Sea. In neighboring Norway, on the contrary, everything is allowed. In the nearby town of Kirkenes, local companies have organized "crab safaris" for Russian tourists, where you can catch and eat crabs as much as you like.

Gennady Charodeyev

In Russia, with a license, large companies are allowed to hunt only male Kamchatka crab, the shell width of which exceeds 15 centimeters. Fishing takes place during the fishing season, which lasts from mid-August to mid-December. And away from the coastline. At the same time, the caught crabs are counted almost over their heads.

In Norway, the rules are not so strict. Crab fishing is prohibited only in the northern regions. Quota fishing is carried out in the south, where cod and haddock spawn, which the crab, according to local scientists, interferes with reproduction.

Over the past ten years, the value of crab on the world market has tripled. In 2020, Norwegian companies sold hundreds of millions of euros of these seafood delicacies abroad. However, not all farms were in positive territory. Fishermen from the Lofoten Islands, for example, complain about crabs tearing their nets with their claws. "Decapod monsters" gather in huge flocks and devour the local flora, devastating, including the seabed. And all of them in the coastal waters of Norway, as scientists assume, there are more than a million individuals.

The logic of the Norwegian authorities is simple - the more tourists catch and eat, the better.

Due to the influx of foreign guests, Kirkenes is rightfully called the "capital of the king crab". Thousands of lovers of marine exoticism flock to the Barents Sea to hunt in the winter season, and then feast on the mined crustacean meat in some Norwegian restaurant.

The correspondent of "Novye Izvestia" contacted Renat Besolov, who has been living in the city of Honningsvag for the fourth year now and works as a trawler on one of the fishing vessels in Norway. Here's what he said about the "crab safari":

- Many tourists come from Murmansk, which is located just 200 km from Kirkenes. One day of such a safari for a Russian citizen, in translation from Norwegian kroner, costs about 20 thousand rubles. This includes the cost of staying at the hotel, excursion and going out to sea. People squeal with delight when they catch one or two crabs. Often large cruise ships call at the port of Honningsvag and crowds of travelers rush to the shores of the Barents Sea to get on some crab trawler and take part in polar fishing. The hotel chef, if asked to cook some crab dishes, will never refuse this service. So, safari is a very profitable business, which, by the way, has been flourishing in Norway for over 20 years. I don’t understand only one thing, why do you need to go to Norway, and not organize crab safaris on your territory, in Murmansk?

Renat is 27 years old. He comes from Chisinau, his mother is Bulgarian, his father is Ossetian. After school, he worked in Moscow at a construction site, where he received 1 thousand rubles a day, now - 2,333 Norwegian crowns (more than 20,000 rubles at the current exchange rate) per day.

- Renat, it turns out that in Norway fishermen earn like Arab sheikhs on oil...

- A few years ago, foreigners on Norwegian ships received much less than residents of Norway. Now a law has been passed here, according to which everyone should receive the same. The daily guarantee payment for sailors and factory workers on Norwegian crab catchers is on average from 2,333 (about 19,000 rubles) to 2,666 Norwegian kroner (about 22,000 rubles) per day without catch.

In addition, all fishermen receive a catch bonus, which comes once at the end of the year, when all income and expenses of the company for the previous calendar year are calculated. If the catch was good, you can get a very good, as it is commonly called in Russia, 13th salary.

From what I know, crab catchers in Russia earn about 1-1.5 million rubles for four months of fishing. This, in my opinion, is very good. It is known, however, that in Russia today there is no law on the division of the company's net income between crew members, but there is a system of shares, which is regulated by a certain stable rate. This data came from Russian sailors who, through social networks, are interested in how to hire the Norwegian fishing fleet.

- Is it true that the so-called "Kamchatka" crab lives in the Barents Sea ? How did he get there from the Far East?

- Kamchatka (royal, as the Norwegians call it) crab was brought to the Barents Sea from the Far East back in the 1930s. The Soviet authorities did this purposefully in order to get the opportunity to get a delicious product.

As far as I know, the first experiment failed, and the second - was crowned with success - the crabs took root and bred. The Soviet Union collapsed, and everyone cared for crabs.

At some point, Kamchatka crabs began to come across to amateur fishermen in the northwestern part of Norway. They were fishing for cod with an ordinary rod and noticed that the fish had been bitten by someone. The Norwegians could not even imagine that the reason for this was the king crab.

The authorities have sounded the alarm - crabs threaten the Norwegian cod population! Meanwhile, enterprising fishermen began to throw the first crab traps into the sea, which in a few hours were filled to capacity with Kamchatka delicacy.

The excitement began. Seeing such a thing, the authorities in Oslo have sharply increased the quotas for catching crabs. On the one hand, they urgently needed to get rid of the Kamchatka crab in order to preserve the cod population, and on the other hand, to preserve the flows of money that were brought by uninvited Far Eastern "migrants". At the same time, Norway found its first sales markets in Asia. They were happy there: after all, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Japanese and Koreans eat only crabs.

Over time, the number of Kamchatka crab decreased - the Norwegians calmed down, the cod was rescued. The fishery for seafood delicacies was given to coastal fishermen. Now "decapods" can be caught here from any vessel and boat, however, up to 15 meters in length.

- You "settled" in Norway. Admit it, why exactly there? What are the working conditions for fishermen in the Norwegian Arctic ?

- My friend had his own ship. There, the guys from the crew changed, but there was no one to hire. They urgently bought a plane ticket for me, so I ended up in Norway.

I am a trawler by profession, this year I received a Norwegian diploma of technologist in the field of seafood processing. Now I can hold high positions, for example, become the head of a factory on mining ships. Although, I must admit, working on the deck, I prefer to catch crabs.

The conditions here in Norway are very good, I would say the best in Europe. The legal framework is working 100%, it is clean and transparent everywhere. People do not know any enmity or envy. An employer who, for example, wants to "cheat" the crew with a salary, will fail in Norway. To be honest, it never even occurs to them.

In this country, everything is organized so that a person can live well! The fisherman can only do his job conscientiously.

- But there are also enough dangers in the Barents Sea?

- Even on my first voyage, the boatswain gave advice: "If you fall overboard, close your eyes immediately!" Why, I ask. It turns out that the water temperature in the Barents Sea is below 0 ° C - while the ship stops, while it turns around, while the boat is lowered, convulsions will begin and a person will die. With closed eyes, said the seasoned sailor, a beautiful corpse will turn out, because seagulls will not peck out their eyes ...

I was shocked, but over the years I realized that the boatswain warned me, the boy. Last spring, a sailor fell overboard on a crab catcher - a string caught on a trap going into the sea, and it was thrown into the icy water. Then there was a complete calm, but the poor fellow was able to swim about 100 meters in the icy water on his own. There was no longer the strength to get on the ship. The tough Norwegian guys pulled him out. Today this fisherman is alive and well. But in other similar cases, people, alas, died.

- Was it hard to get used to cold Norway?

- In the north it is severe: low temperatures, wind, cold, ice. A serious test for the soul and body of beginners! But over time you get used to it, and it becomes a regular job.

I started on a ship, where they work for 12 hours and rest for 12 hours. The 12 hours of leisure include sleep, food, shower and everything else. And the most difficult thing at first is not the cold, but the relationship with people.

The team where I worked are men from forty years old and above. It was hard with these hard workers, because they constantly teased me, they said that, they say, the green one does not know anything, they drove me back and forth. But they were right - work at speed, conveyor belt, five people on deck, and if you make even one mistake, you screw up the work of the whole team.

At first I did not know this and constantly made some stupid mistakes, because of which the work stopped on the whole ship. Gradually I learned everything and became my own.

It is always cold in the Barents Sea. You get frostbitten there all the time, you sweat, you get frostbitten again. Things wear out to holes. By the way, the Norwegian owner also pays for this discomfort.

- What is the name of your crabbers now ? Who is the owner of the company you work for?

- Our crabbers are called Northeastern . This is a fairly old ice-class vessel capable of catching crabs in the harsh conditions of the Barents Sea. The owner of the company that owns the ship is an entrepreneur for 34 years. Nevertheless, it is known that he inherited the business from his father, who retired from business. And my grandfather bequeathed the ship to my father in due time. Therefore, from the owner came out a great sense in the maritime business. However, he decided to start hunting for crabs only in 2013.

The company also had a second ship, the Northguider, but we lost it in December 2018. A terrible wind was blowing, the temperature dropped to -20 ° C. They released a trawl that could not be lifted on board, the vessel lost control and eventually got a hole. Thank God, everyone was saved. This year, the owner bought a new vessel, and now the work on its re-equipment is nearing completion. At the beginning of next year, we should go fishing.

- How many fishermen are on your boat ? What countries do they represent?

- The full crew consists of 28 people. A good half of them are Norwegians, the rest are Moldovans, Bulgarians, Romanians, Lithuanians, Germans, Latvians and Poles. The average age of the crew members is 30-35 years. There are those who are under 20, and there are those who are over 50. Almost all of them are family.

Before that, I worked on other ships with Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians. Interestingly, as a rule, there were no EU citizens there.

- Are there many Russian fishermen in Norway?

- Quite a bit of. At first they came to work for the season, and after the flight they hurried home. But over time, many moved to Norway for permanent residence. Why? Local people have great privileges. For example, if you live in the north of the country in the Finnmark region, the state gives each resident a free quota as an additional income. This means that if you wish, you can independently harvest 7 tons of cod and 1 ton of king crab and sell your catch to a coastal fish processing plant.

By the way, foreigners can also receive a free quota from the state. It is enough to live in the Norwegian Arctic for 1 year. Although the Norwegians do not have a special division according to nationality, as is customary in our area, they respect Russian sailors, first of all, for their professionalism, endurance and readiness to complete any assigned task.

- Is it really customary for the Norwegians to take women into the sea?

- They take girls with them on every flight. Most of all I was surprised when I was working on one ship, where I saw a beautiful brunette. I asked, "Do you work here?" She nodded. The girl scrubbed the deck like a real sailor. I noticed that she had a strong back and strong, non-feminine arms. It even seemed to me that my fingers were two times thinner than hers.

In addition, there are girls who mostly work at the factory, but sometimes go out on deck. But this is on ships with Norwegian crews. When I worked with Russians, we didn't have a single woman. They said that a woman at sea is a bad omen. And the Norwegians think that this is normal.

- Is your ship just catching crabs or is it also producing products right in the sea?

- We catch crabs, but on the ship we have a factory where the crab is immediately cut, sorted by size, boiled, frozen, packed in boxes of 10 kg.

Freezing the crab at sea ensures good product quality. That is why the price of delicacies is higher, and the salary of the crew is naturally higher.

- What are you doing with the catch ? Where are you leaving him?

- Fishermen are taking their catch to coastal fish processing factories. In our case, the products have already been processed on board the ship, and they go to the freezer hangars belonging to the same factory. Onshore, the company's employees recalculate the tonnage, record how many crabs were caught by the ship. Accounting and control everywhere! This deprives fishing companies of any opportunity to let their products go to the left and put money in their pockets.

In Russia, I know that unloading the catch directly into the sea is widespread. The fishing trawler is approached by a vessel that receives the products. Then the "receiver" goes to the shore to sell the goods. During this time, you can carry out a lot of fraud.

- All the time they write that in the Barents Sea, Fishery Inspectors caught poachers who were catching crabs in the Russian sector of the Barents Sea. Is there such a problem in Norway?

- For Norway, poachers at sea are nonsense. Even if someone decides to go fishing tomorrow without a license, the competent authorities will ask him today where the vessel is heading and what have the fishermen forgotten in such and such an area of the Barents Sea?

When the media report that poachers have been caught in Russia, it means that they have already reached the place of fishing and have begun to fish or crab. They were caught red-handed. In Norway, this is basically impossible. Poachers simply will not reach the place of fishing.

- They say that crabs are caught with a hook. This is true?

- We catch crabs with traps. But they are also great for hooks. A trap is a fairly simple device that resembles a bird net. A rope 6 km long and 24 mm thick is taken. Every 30 meters, one trap is attached, into which the bait was put. A chain weighing about 200 kg is attached to the ends of the rope. This is done so that the traps are not carried away by the current.

Crab catching with hooks is the same system. Only the rope is thinner, and instead of traps on the cable, sharp hooks are fitted every meter. At the same time, a piece of fish is automatically attached to each hook as a bait.

By the way, Norwegians catch snow crab at a depth of 250-350 meters, and royal (Kamchatka) - 15-30 meters.

- You are dragging a crab out of the sea while still alive, but how, excuse me, is it being deprived of its life ?

“After the crabs are caught, they are sent to the factory, and they all end up in a pool with running water. When 500 kg of crabs have accumulated, the bottom of the pool rises and each crab is fed in turn into a chopping machine, which cuts them in half. As a result, the so-called "roses" are obtained, which fit into boxes. Rosettes are the left and right limbs of the crab. In the crab, only the legs and shell are edible. Everything else, including the guts, is thrown overboard.

- According to rumors, crab catchers do not eat crabs. Why?

- That's right, crab catchers do not eat crabs either on the sea or on land. Although the crew members have the right to go down to the shops of the ship factory and take a couple of crabs for dinner. Usually, beginners love to try crab meat, but veterans never eat it. As they say - ate in due time for the rest of your life...