Russia’s Fishery Shipowners Association awarded MSC certification following battle with Pollock Catchers Association
Marine Stewardship Council certification has been awarded to Russia’s Fishery Shipowners Association (FSA), with members including the Russian Fishery Company (RFC), for the Sea of Okhotsk pollock fishery.
The FSA is made up of 29 fishing companies and was established in 2016. These companies account for 22 percent of all Russia’s wild-catch harvest and landed 20,000 metric tons (MT) of fillet contracts for the European market in 2021. The members of the association also account for 55 percent of the total investment under the state-backed quota-investment program, having pledged more than RUB 126 billion (USD 1.7 billion, EUR 1.4 billion) in new investments in new vessels and processing plants.
RFC is a member of the FSA and one of the top-three Russian manufacturers of wild whitefish, with a focus on pollock and Pacific herring. The company is constructing a new fleet of “supertrawlers” designed to catch more than 60,000 MT of fish annually.
“The RFC is guided by sustainability standards in all activities,” RFC Director General Olga Naumova said in a press release. “We invest in the construction of a new fleet, which provides the highest level of efficiency and environmental friendliness of fishing available today. The renewal of the fleet will allow the company to significantly increase the production of high-quality MSC-certified products of marine deep processing. In particular, the RFC continues to systematically increase the supply of pollock fillet and mince to Europe; The volume of contracts in this direction last year increased from 12,000 to almost 20,000 MT. In 2022, we plan to increase this figure to 25,000 MT.”
The Pollock Catchers Association includes 35 member companies and accounts for 78 percent of Russia’s total pollock catch. In 2020, RFC proposed drastic changes to the management of the nation’s fishing sector, which were opposed by other PCA members, and which eventually resulted in RFC’s ejection from the group, resulting in RFC losing its right to claim affiliation with the PCA’s Sea of Okhotsk MSC certification, which it acknowledged is critical for fishery market access – particularly European markets and buyers.
In December 2020, the ejection was ruled illegal and the RFC returned to the Pollock Catchers Association, regaining the right to use the MSC certification. But the dispute prompted RFC to pursue its own certificate.
Similarly, other companies are following suit, as Norebo, Russia’s largest fishing quota-holder, announced it will seek its own MSC certification for its fleet in the Sea of Okhotsk mid-water trawl pollock fishery. The assessment covers the same areas currently covered by the Russian Pollock Catchers Association’s MSC certificate.
Photo courtesy of Russian Fishery Company