Russian government makes big investment in fishery science vessels

Russia is refurbishing its research vessels, which are on average over 35 years old.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has signed a government decree allocating RUB 23 billion (USD 301.8 million, EUR 263.6 million) to construct a large-capacity scientific fishery ship to be built through 2026. 

Mishustin said at a meeting with vice prime ministers and ministers the ship will be designed to conduct a wide range of research to help Russia increase its seafood resource base and provide the nation’s fisheries with additional volume. Russian fishery science will be funded with RUB 900 million (USD 11.8 million, EUR 10.3 million) annually beginning in 2022, he said.

“Modern scientific ships will considerably enhance the competitiveness of the Russian scientific fleet, the efficiency of the activity of the scientists, and [provide] more jobs to country’s shipyards,” Mishustin said.

The ship will be operated by the state-owned Russian Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography (VNIRO). VNIRO Director Kirill Kolonchin said the 120-meter ship will be able to explore Arctic and Antarctic waters and will be equipped with a helicopter, drones, bathyscaphe, and a remotely operated underwater vehicle. 

The Russian Federal Agency for Fisheries Head Ilya Shestakov said Russian fishing companies now have 100 new vessels planned or under construction, and there is a need for scientific support to calculate quotas and facilitate fish location during harvesting periods. 

The scientific funding is part of a larger Russian plan to augment its fisheries science. In 2020, Russia allocated RUB 27.6 billion (USD 361.7 million, EUR 316.2 million) for two other vessels equipped with modern sophisticated equipment to be built through 2025. 

VNIRO currently carries out more than 1,500 expeditions a year, but its 19 vessels have an average age of 35 years.

According to figures from Russia's Strategy of Fisheries Development 2030, adopted in 2018, assistance from scientific ships in locating aggregations of fish increases catches by 30 to 40 percent, due to optimal use of fishing capabilities.  


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