Bureaucracy, coronavirus, taxes... Why aquaculture does not take root in Russia

Bureaucracy, coronavirus, taxes... Why aquaculture does not take root in Russia
Bureaucracy, coronavirus, taxes... Why aquaculture does not take root in Russia
13 October 2020, 12:14EconomyPhoto: Медиахолдинг 1Mi
On the Russian market, only 5% of fish comes from aquaculture. The thing is that it is long and expensive to grow it, and support for fish farms in the country is only 0.5% of the segment's turnover.

Problems arise even in the Far East, where it would seem that there are all natural conditions for the development of this business.

Daria Voznesenskaya

More than four thousand enterprises are engaged in the cultivation of fish and seafood in Russia, 86% of them are small farms with a capacity of up to 100 tons of products per year. There are about 100 such companies in Primorye. The total area of sea gardens there is more than 70 thousand hectares, VostokMedia reports.

According to the head of the Primorsky Territory Fisheries Agency Valery Korko, over six months, aquaculture enterprises have grown over 45 thousand tons of scallop, mussels, trepang and seaweed - 18 thousand tons more than last year. Also in the region, carp, silver carp and sturgeon are grown, but so far in small volumes.

However, this year the industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus. In particular, the volume of fish sales in the domestic market decreased due to the closure of restaurants, and in the external market due to the closure of borders.

“This year is very difficult for exports, so we switched to the domestic market of the country, which now accounts for almost 50% of the total volume. The domestic market does not allow us to sell those volumes that can return us the previous profit, and our main clients, the Chinese and Koreans, have closed borders", - said Valentin Bogoslavsky, director of the Nereida company.

The process of growing fish is complex in terms of technology. Many people refuse to create such a business because of the high costs and long payback period. For example, the company "Aquaculture L" intends to invest about 142 million rubles in the construction of a base for breeding trepang, scallop and kelp. The fish breeding site is already inhabited by juveniles. However, the company plans to harvest the first harvest of kelp in 2022, and trepang and scallop - only by 2024.

Experts admit that it will be difficult for aquaculture to exist without government support. For example, last year one of the oldest and largest aquaculture enterprises in Primorye, Nereida, lost most of its juvenile scallop due to prolonged downpours. Regional subsidies helped the company survive the incident.

The total volume of state support for aquaculture enterprises planned for the next three years is about 500 million rubles, which is 0.5% of the industry's annual turnover. In the budget of the Primorsky Territory for 2020, about 19 million rubles have been allocated for subsidies for fish-growing enterprises. But this is clearly not enough.

In addition, fish farmers have recently started paying VAT at a rate of 20%. In such conditions, it becomes more and more difficult to raise fish. Fish farms want to reduce the tax burden and increase state support, as well as to be recognized as agricultural producers with all the ensuing preferences. In addition, market participants are trying to simplify the procedure for passing the state ecological expertise, as well as abolish the licensing of the export of live seafood.

Far Eastern industry associations have been asking for a long time to create a "road map" for the development of aquaculture in the region. “We have repeatedly said that the industry needs a roadmap. Ideally - with a plan-schedule for the progressive solution of existing problematic issues by priority, with the assignment of specific responsible persons in each of the federal executive bodies. Of course, this would speed up the removal of current barriers”, - says Roman Vityazev, chairman of the Far Eastern Union of Mariculture Enterprises.

“Today many people are interested in the development of aquaculture in Primorye. But, after weighing all the pros and cons, not all potential investors ultimately decide to implement projects. We can say that today the industry is just getting on its feet. And there is no doubt that it will go far if it does get a solid support in the person of the state”, - writes VostokMedia.

The Sverdlovsk fish farms also lack government support. They believe that it is necessary to subsidize not only the costs of growing fish, but also for its implementation, writes TagilCity.ru. For example, a line ministry may conclude contracts for the supply of products to municipal institutions.

Now there are 12 aquaculture enterprises in the region. There are power plants with cooling ponds that do not freeze in winter and are ideal for fish farming on an industrial scale. However, compared to the end of the last century, fish production in the Sverdlovsk region has fallen five times.

Several years ago it was said that the Reftinsky Rybkhoz company would be able to provide the entire Urals with black caviar. But in reality, everything is much sadder - only 50 kg are sold. The rest is necessary for reproduction.

“The production is not cheap. In fish farming, 70% of the costs are for feed. It is also necessary to create normal conditions: for example, trout cannot live at water temperatures above 20 degrees. For the summer, we transport fish to the quarry, which means transportation costs. That is why the cost of a local manufacturer is higher than, for example, in Murmansk. And retail chains always take what is cheaper”, - said the Reftinsky Fish Farm.

Sales of the Beloyarsk fish farm fell 2.5 times. Previously, 250 kg were sold per week, now - only 100. They note that if prices rise, then demand will immediately decrease. “There is government support - there is a regional subsidy for the sale of fish, 30 rubles per kilogram, but it does not solve all the problems”, - the fish farm said.

And in the Rostov region, the death of aquaculture was generally predicted. The other day, the head of the Big Fish Association, Alexander Yershov, said that one of the main problems of the industry is illegal requirements from federal legislation. "Neither the fall of the ruble, nor the rise in prices for resources, nor other objective circumstances, probably, affect so much as those problems that can be called man-made", - Donnews said.

Yershov is concerned that in 2021 all fish farms must conduct surveys of their reservoirs to find out whether they are dangerous hydraulic structures or not.

“The production of a safety declaration for hydraulic structures costs the company on average 2.7 million rubles, and another 300 thousand need to be spent on related expenses. I am not taking these numbers from the ceiling. One of our farms applied for a declaration and received such an invoice. The profit of this enterprise last year amounted to 8 million rubles, which is considered a good indicator. Paying 3 million rubles for paper that is completely unnecessary is a luxury that the overwhelming majority of fish farms cannot afford”, - Yershov noted.

Also, according to him, all the fish farms that raised the issue of the illegal requirements of Rostekhnadzor were subjected to unscheduled inspections and received fines from the prosecutor's office. One of the companies, according to Yershov, after this may not be revived - and this is minus 120 tons of fish in the basket of aquaculture grown in the Rostov region.

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