Russia subsidizing Far East shipyards to aid crab-fishing vessel construction

The crab vessel Captain Skovpen, launched by the Okskaya Shipyard in Russia, moments before its launch.
The crab vessel Captain Skovpen launched by the Okskaya Shipyard in Russia | Photo courtesy of the United Press Service of Rosrybolovstvo
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The Russian government is planning to subsidize the shipbuilding industry in the country’s Far East to aid in the construction of new crab-fishing vessels.

The Russian Federal Fisheries Agency (Rosrybolovstvo) announced the government is sending more than RUB 3.2 billion (USD 35.2 million, EUR 32.5 million) to shipyards to aid in the construction of crab-fishing vessels. The funding will help the country’s fishing industry meet the requirements of its investment quota program, which started in 2017.

“In just three years, 13 such crab catchers should leave the stocks, and these funds will help speed up the launching of seven of them,” Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said. According to Rosrybolovstvo, Mishustin instructed the Ministry of Industry and Trade to send the funds to shipbuilders in “the very near future.”

Russia ran a second round of crab quota auctions in 2023, which once again came with requirements to build new fishing vessels as part of a push to modernize Russia’s fishing fleet. According to Rosrybolovstvo, the results of the latest auction require an additional 15 fishing vessels and up to 31 crab-fishing vessels. 

By the end of 2023, Russian shipyards had completed 22 fishing vessels total, comprising 13 fishing vessels and nine crab vessels, according to Rosrybolovstvo. 

That total is still far short of the original quota program, which saw Russian shipbuilders contracted to build 64 fishing and 41 crab vessels. The country’s shipyards were having trouble meeting the demand as early as 2020, with few of the contracts being renewed. Shipyards have continued to have trouble meeting the orders, especially in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine, which led to sanctions from the European Unionthe U.K., and the U.S. 

This is also not the first time that the Russian government has announced government subsidies to aid in vessel construction. In 2019, the government promised at least RUB 10 billion (then USD 156.5 million, EUR 141.3 million) in subsidies to cover costs. However, the All-Russian Association of Fishing Industry (VARPE) President German Zverev said at the time that there were fears that the subsidies may not arrive in time. 

The Russian government ultimately approved the subsidies in August 2020, allowing companies that ordered a vessel at a Far Eastern shipyard to apply for compensation of 20 percent of the cost of the vessel, with a maximum limit of RUB 340 million (USD 3.7 million, 3.4 million).  

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