Despite obstacles, Russia's aquaculture sets sight on tripling production by 2030

Published on
October 5, 2018

Russia’s aquaculture industry is set to its increase annual production to at least 700,000 metric tons – three times more than 2017’s total – Vasily Sokolov, the deputy head of the Russia’s Federal Agency for Fisheries, said in his speech at the II Global Fishery Forum in St. Petersburg in mid-September.

Aquaculture is a relatively new industry for Russia, which started to develop quickly after the country banned food from several countries in 2014, including Norway. In 2017, the country’s aquaculture farms harvested nearly 186,000 MT of fish, consisting mainly of char, salmon, sturgeon, shrimp, and carp. 

Despite its advances, Russia’s aquaculture industry still lags behind its global competitors, according to Irina Golfand, an agriculture strategist at the consulting company NEO Centre. Ample wild-catch marine resources – Russia’s total catch by volume is expected to surpass exceed five million metric tons in 2018 – and an underdeveloped domestic market have been natural impediments. Golfand said another major problem is that there are no Russian aquaculture technology companies, forcing Russian aquaculture firms to buy their technology abroad and try to adapt it to Russian climates and conditions. Russian aquaculture firms also struggle to obtain affordable loans, and suffer from a lack of qualified staff, Golfand said.

However, Golfand was optimistic Russia’s government, which began focusing efforts on improving the sector four years ago, will continue to help the industry address the problems it faces.

Vasily Sokolov, the deputy head of Russia’s Federal Agency for Fisheries, agreed that his country has untapped potential in its aquaculture sector. Its greatest strength is that it possesses an enormous area of land and water ideal for farming fish “of high quality and ecological standards,” Sokolov said at the forum, which was attended by SeafoodSource.

Government authorities have already poured resources into the creation of a business-friendly environment for attracting private investors to Russia’s aquaculture sector, which “proved to be rather effective,” Sokolov said. 

And the government will continue to aim to improve the sector, with the goal of increase its aquaculture production to two million metric tons (MT), Sokolov said.  Sokolov pledged a new focus on shellfish and algae farming, which combined account for less than one percent of the total production of Russia’s aquaculture industry, Sokolov said.

Sokolov made the following forecasts for Russia’s aquaculture production: Whitefish will increase from 4,800 MT in 2017 to 7,000 MT in 2035; sturgeon will move from 3,200 MT in 2017 to 10,000 MT in 2035 and 20,000 in 2050; invertebrates (mostly shellfish) will increase from 4,300 MT in 2017 to 40,000 MT in 2035 and 100,000 MT in 2050; algae will go from 1,500 MT in 2017 to 15,000 MT in 2035, to 30,000 MT in 2050; and perch will hit 15,000 MT in 2035 and 150,000 MT in 2050.

Photo courtesy of Russian Aquaculture Company

Reporting from Saint Petersburg, Russia

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