The water bodies of Russia include 22 500 000 hectares of lakes, 4 300 000 ha of storage ponds, 960 000 ha of agricultural reservoirs for complex settings, 142 900 ha of ponds, 523 000 km of rivers and large areas of water and 380 000 km2 suitable for mariculture.
There are four types of aquaculture activity in the Russian Federation: pasturable, ponds, industrial and recreational.
There are 295 freshwater fish species in the water bodies of the Russian Federation. 63 fish species, crustacean species and molluscs are reared artificially. 27 fish breeds, crossbreeds as well as 9 domesticated forms of carp, salmon, sturgeon, coregonid and cichlid fish are now cultivated. Common carp (Cyprinus carpio), silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix), bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis), grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idellus), trout and sturgeon are the most important.
In 2004 there were 22 190 people working in the aquaculture sector.
Most aquaculture research is carried out within industry approved sectoral programmes. Over the last 5 years an average of US$ 1 500 000–2 000 000 have been spent annually to finance aquaculture operations in the Russian Federation.
The marketing of fish products in Russia operates on three levels: local, regional and federal.
The only aquaculture products exported are sturgeon and trout eggs. Per capita consumption of fish products has increased from 9.9 kg in 1999 to 11.3 kg in 2003, but this is 2.4 kg below the level determined by the basket of goods of the Russian Federation. After a decrease in aquaculture production in the mid 1990s, due to market related factors, developments are taking place in the sector. Its current stage of development is characterized among other things by a wider range of cultured species, a shift to semi-intensive methods and the use of modern methods of feeding.
Fish breeding in Russia dates back to the Middle Ages when it was carried out in monastery ponds. At the beginning of the fifteenth century, the court of Ivan the Terrible had a school of fish-breeders. Initial progress in fish culture took place in the middle of the nineteenth century when the Russian practical scientist Vladimir P. Vrasskiy developed a dry (Russian) method of fish egg insemination. This method provided a start to the artificial rearing of salmonids, cyprinids, sturgeons and other fish species. In the middle of the twentieth century, the national system of high-value fish species reproduction was established in the former Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), involving the construction of specialized fish-breeding plants in the basins of the Azov, Caspian and Far East seas (Russian Federal Fisheries Research Institute - VNIRO, 2004). The method of hypophysis injections was used for obtaining mature eggs and sperm from spawning fish. Due to this method, fish-breeding plants operate in a stable way and every year introduce millions of different-size fingerlings of salmonids, sturgeons and cyprinids into natural water bodies (Mamontov et al., 2000; Chebanov and Billard, 2001; VNIRO, 2004).
Pond aquaculture in Russia was developed in the 1930s and 1940s, when more than 20 000 ha of different types of ponds were constructed in the central region of Russia. In the 1960s and 1970s, polyculture of carp and herbivorous fish was introduced in pond aquaculture. Various methods of intensive culture were also used (Mamontov, 1998; RAAS, 2001; Mamontov, 2004; Bagrov, 2004).
Industrial fish breeding was also developed (cage and tank-rearing), using heated water from thermal stations, as well as trout rearing in the north Caucasus and Altay (Mamontov, 1998; RAAS, 2001; MARF, 2003).
Pasturable fish-breeding involving Coregonidae and herbivorous fish species started to develop in some lakes and reservoirs (Mamontov, 1998; Mamontov et al., 2003; MARF, 2003).
Marine aquaculture as a separate industry began in the second half of the 1970s, although some scientific-technical development had been carried out since the end of 1960s. Salmon and sturgeon breeding have an even longer history (Moyseev et al., 1985; VNIRO, 1998 VNIRO, 1998; Bagrov, 2004).
In 1990, due to the different directions being taken by the aquaculture industry, Russia achieved the largest volume of aquaculture production ever: 259 700 tonnes (Mamontov, 1998; Mikheles, 2002; RAAS, 2001; MARF, 2003). However reorganization of the economy resulted in an abrupt decrease in production. In 1996, aquaculture production was only 53 300 tonnes (Mamontov, 1998; FAO, 2000; FAO, 2000; Mikheles, 2002; RAAS, 2001).
In 2004 there were 22 190 people working on state and joint-stock owned fish-breeding enterprises. Those working on privately owned farms were 5 000.
Almost all aquaculture enterprises are located in rural areas. The professional training of fish farm workers is at the same level as for those working in other branches of agriculture. In 2003 a 30.5 percent of those working in aquaculture had completed secondary education, 24.8 percent had a secondary vocational education, 15.5 percent a primary vocational education and 12.23 percent a higher professional education.
Aquaculture specialists are trained at 9 fisheries and agricultural higher education establishments and in 4 specialized institutions (colleges, technical schools). The annual number of specialists graduating from higher education establishments is 110–130.
The majority of people working on fish farms are women. In some farms women account for over 70 percent of the labour force.
The area of inland freshwater includes 22 500 000 ha of lakes, 4 300 000 ha of reservoirs, 960 000 ha of multi purpose agricultural water bodies, 142 900 ha of ponds and 523 000 km of rivers (Mamontov, 1998; Andriyasheva et al., 1999; RAAS, 2001; GosNIORKH, 2002; Mamontov et al., 2003; Servetnik, 2004; Ivanov and Pechnikov, 2004).
Based on the total area of fisheries waters and the population of Russia, there are 0.19 ha of water suitable for aquaculture per inhabitant.
Aquaculture in Russia is developing on a zonal principle. In the water bodies located south of latitude 60º N carps and herbivorous fish species are reared. In the administrative areas of the Russian Federation, located in the southern regions (Krasnodar and Stavropol Territories), 10 000–20 000 tonnes of marketable fish are reared, and in central Russia (Moscow, Belgorod and Ryazan regions), 5 000 – 10 000 tonnes are produced. In the North and Siberian regions, where the water temperature is 12–18ºC (Karelia, Saint Petersburg, Tyumen and Chelyabinsk regions), an average 3 000–10 000 tonnes of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and coregonid fish species are cultivated annually. In 1999 the total area of pond managed by fisheries enterprises and organizations amounted to 142 900 ha, but only 91 100 ha were used for fish rearing. After that, improvements have been carried out and, as a result, 10 000 ha of pond were restored. Thus in 2005, 101 100 ha of ponds were in use.
In some of the lakes used for culturing cold-water fish and in some of the cooling water reservoirs of power plants used for rearing warm-water fish, there are productive capacities of cage and tankrearing farms, the total area of which in 2002 was 590 000 m2.
In addition to the freshwater fishery resources, the Russian Federation has a long marine coastline (about 60 000 km) with large water areas (380 000 km2) in the Barents, White, Azov, Black, Caspian and Far East seas. These areas are suitable for installing mariculture complexes. In 2002 about 70 000 ha were used for this purpose (Moyseev et al., 1985; VNIRO, 1998; Danilov, 2002; Anokhina, 2002).
In the water bodies of the Russian Federation, there are 295 typically freshwater fish species belonging to 140 genera, 34 families and 13 classes (Reshetnikov, 2002). Commercial catches in rivers, lakes and storage ponds include 87 fish species. 48 fish species, 3 crustacean species and 12 species of other marine organisms are artificially cultured in the freshwaters of Russia, of which the most important are given in Table 1.
27 fish breeds, crosses and types, as well as 9 domesticated forms of carps, salmonids, sturgeons, coregonid and cichlid fish are cultivated in industrial aquaculture (Bogeruk et al., 1997; Bogeruk et al., 2002).
Table 1. Main cultured species in Russian Federation.
Carp and herbivorous larvae as well as eyed trout eggs are also produced (Bogeruk et al., 2004). Carp species are the main fish produced in industrial aquaculture, and in recent years their production has amounted to more than 80 percent of the total. However, there is a trend towards diversifying the species to include both native ichthyofauna (tench, wels catfish, crucian carp) and species previously acclimatized: buffalo, channel catfish, so-iuy mullet. Crustacea, such as noble crayfish and giant freshwater prawn are also being cultivated on an industrial scale.
In the Far East, North and Black Sea basins, industrial rearing of high-value mariculture species such as mussels, sea cucumber, mullets, Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) and others has been developed on an experimental basis. 15 fish species and sub-species included in the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation (2001) are artificially reproduced at aquaculture enterprises.
In Russia, research organizations also work with genetically modified hydrobionts. But the results of this research have not gone beyond experimental work.
The work done at salmon breeding plants in the Far East, according to the scientists of the Russian Pacific Federal Fisheries Research Institute (TINRO), has resulted in an additional annual catch estimated at 40 000 tonnes (Danilov, 2002). According to the Caspian Fisheries Research Institute, the share of fish of hatchery origin in commercial catches of the Caspian Sea is as follows: Russian sturgeon – 55.8 percent, stellate sturgeon – 36 percent and beluga – about 98 percent (VNIRO, 2004). More than 80 percent of the sturgeons of the Azov Sea originate from hatcheries (Mamontov et al., 2000).
Due to the work on artificial reproduction of coregonid fish species in western Siberia (Ob-Irtysh basin), about 310 tonnes of peled (Coregonus peled) and 290 tonnes of muksun (Coregonus muksun) are caught annually. In 2002, in the Tsimlyansk reservoir (southern federal okrug), 1 200 tonnes of herbivorous fish species were caught with an average individual weight of 8–10 kg (Mamontov et al., 2003). According to research organizations, the efficiency of the work on artificial fish culture in natural water bodies and reservoirs of Russia is demonstrated by the annual catches of 70 000 tonnes (VNIRO, 2004).
Pond aquaculture. It is the main type of aquaculture production in the Russian Federation. In 2002 there were 273 pond farms distributed irregularly across the territory of Russia. The main production of fishpond is in the southern, central and Volga federal okrugs, where 86 190 tonnes (79.95 percent) of fish were produced in 2003, and 86 370 tonnes (79.16 percent) in 2004. In the last 10 years, pond aquaculture has been carried out on an extensive and semi-intensive basis and is based on polyculture rearing of carp and herbivorous fish with partial feeding with grain and mixed feed. Productivity in different fish-breeding farms varies very much, from 320 to 1 960 kg/hectare. In 2002, average productivity was 673 kg/hectare, which is almost half that at the end of the 1980s.
Industrial aquaculture.Tanks and cages of different capacity and configuration are the productive units for fish rearing under industrial conditions. The main fish reared are trout and sturgeon species, which have a high selling price. Over the last years, fish breeding in cages has spread widely in the north-west federal okrug (Republic of Karelia, Leningrad Region). Here, trout is cultivated in cages in lakes where the temperature is relatively optimal for this species (Mamontov, 2004). Farms cultivating rainbow trout in tanks are located in the southern federal okrug. They use high-quality water from mountain springs, which has a relatively stable temperature throughout the year. The annual commercial production of trout in cage farms is 35–50 kg/m2 and in tanks is 80–95 kg/m2.
Since the beginning of the 1990s, rearing carp in cage and tank farms, based on heated water from thermal and atomic power plants has been abandoned. The main cultured species cross breeds of sturgeons. The productivity of the cages and tanks is 50 to 100 kg/m2.
There are currently several fish-breeding farms using a recirculated water supply system in Russia. However, such units have not been widely developed because of the high cost of construction and maintenance.
Recreational aquaculture. Over the last 3 years, fish breeding in water bodies with an area less than one hectare has begun to develop near the large cities of Russia. As a rule, these are small ponds on farmland. The fish is used not for food, but for educational purposes and for recreation. Small water bodies also provide paid recreational fishing and different services to those who can afford it and who wish to spend their spare time in nature. Recreational aquaculture is based on industrial fish breeding and uses fish reared in fish-breeding farms according to fixed standards. Its efficiency is not determined by the level of fish productivity, but by the profit made from its services.
Over the last ten years, enterprises in the Russian Federation under different patterns of ownership (state, cooperative, private) have dealt with the rearing of fish and other aquaculture species. Most of the commercial fish in Russia is produced by the enterprises of the State Cooperative Union "ROSRYBKHOZ" and by fish-breeding farms of agricultural type operating within the system of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation. In 2002, there were about 600 aquaculture enterprises in Rosrybkhoz, including 33 federal state owned enterprises, 35 joint stock companies, 26 regional associations, unions and societies, and many country farms. The federal state enterprises dealing with the reproduction of high-value fish species and the creation and maintenance of pedigree stocks of fish breeds are almost entirely financed from the federal budget.
The graph below shows total aquaculture production in Russian Federation according to FAO statistics:
The market for fish products in Russia operates at three levels: local, regional and federal. Local markets are limited to the territories where the producers are located. As a rule, these are rural settlements with a population of up to 10 000. The regional markets serve one or two administrative units of the Russian Federation and are located within a distance of 200–250 km from the producers. The population of the territory served by a regional market is 1 000 000–1 500 000. Federal markets are in large and medium cities with a population of not less than 1 000 000. At federal markets, the species assortment, distribution volumes and cost characteristics of aquaculture products are mostly determined by the paying capacity of the inhabitants and not by their number. The markets of the Moscow and Saint Petersburg regions are very significant and in recent years have accounted for more than 25 percent of the Russian aquaculture production. As a whole, up to 10 percent of Russian aquaculture products are sold at local markets (almost all of it live), 50–60 percent is sold at regional markets and 30–40 percent in towns and cities. Most of the mariculture production is supplied to the markets after processing, in the form of various types of goods.
Until now, fish farms have sold 30 percent of their production through their own shops and mobile aquarium booths. The rest of the production is supplied to the trading network at wholesale prices, the level of which is determined by the paying capacity of population, the fish species and the season. For example, the retail price for 1 kg carp during the autumn-winter period is 35–45 rubles (1.4 – 1.8 US$) and during the spring-summer period increases to 80–100 (3.2 – 4.0 US$) rubles. Some aquaculture companies, especially in the central federal okrug, have therefore reorganized their fish rearing and distribution programme from the autumn to spring-summer, and have increased their income by 20–25 percent. When selling live fish, commercial extra charges reach 40–50 percent because of the high risk associated with keeping fish alive for a long period.
Selling live aquaculture products requires a veterinary certificate. Processed aquaculture products are accompanied by a sanitary certificate and a certificate of conformance. These documents are issued by the public services of the Russian Federation. Special tagging of aquaculture products is not carried out.
Sturgeon and trout eggs are the only aquaculture products which are exported. The main importers of sturgeon eggs are China, Greece, Germany, United States of America and Bulgaria, while trout eggs are exported to Armenia, Belarus, Georgia and Ukraine.
Aquaculture is an integral part of the agricultural industry in the Russian Federation, both in terms of its organization and means of production, and because industrial methods of fish rearing, especially in recirculation systems suitable for urban conditions, have not become widely popular. Practically all the production facilities of the fish-breeding and mariculture farms are located in rural areas, and this determines the composition of staff and the socio-economic conditions of their existence and development. In several communities, fish-breeding farms are the only industrial enterprises providing occupation and determining the level of employment and salaries of the population and thereby the income level of rural families (Rosinformagrotech, 2005; Institute for Economics, Information and Automatic Systems in Fisheries - VNIERKH, 2005). Increasing fish production at fish farms in recent years has also increased the role of the aquaculture sector of the rural economy in providing the population with food products of animal origin. According to estimates, the rural population consumes up to 10 percent of the aquaculture production. Per capita fish consumption increased from 0.19 kg in 1995 to 0.44 kg in 2004. The average per capita income in rural areas is much lower than that of the urban population (Rosinformagrotech, 2005) and the main fish species consumed by the rural population are cyprinids, because the price of these species is quite low: US$ 0.5–0.85 per kg. On the whole, the ratio of fish in the diet of the rural population is not higher than 5 percent, but this can reach up to 30–35 percent in some coastal administrative units of the Russian Federation (RAAS, 2001; VNIRO, 1998 – 2000 – 2003 – 2004; VNIERKH, 2003 – 2004 – 2004).
For a long time in the Soviet period, aquaculture development was managed by the Ministry of Fisheries. Ministry of Fisheries of the Russian Federation was responsible for aquaculture development. At the end of the 1980s, the State Cooperative Union of Fisheries (Rosrybkhoz) was established based on the fisheries enterprises of Russia. In the 1990s, Rosrybkhoz acquired the status of an association, bringing together more than 90 percent of the Russian fish breeding farms under different forms of ownership (state, joint stock company, cooperative, private). The State managed aquaculture through two independent institutional structures: the State Committee of Fisheries and the Ministry of Agriculture. However, these departments did not have any independent unit dealing with problems of aquaculture. As a result, both departments delegated the management of most problems associated with aquaculture development to Rosrybkhoz. Since March 2004, a new management structure of national economy has been introduced in Russia. No independent department for aquaculture has been created at the Ministry of Agriculture or in any of the Federal Agencies. Fish industry development is thus managed by departments which have other functions (reproduction of biological resources, animal husbandry).
From an analysis of the available fisheries legislation, it appears that the Russian Federation as a whole does not have a systematic approach to aquaculture. Indeed, it is often unclear to the reader whether the term fisheries includes aquaculture or not. Being a desk study, the following work does not tackle the issue. Only a field visit, ensuring direct contact with the authorities, could possibly give a clarification.
There is currently no basic fisheries law in the Russian Federation. A Draft Federal Law on fisheries and conservation of aquatic biodiversity resources was adopted after the third reading by the State Duma (Lower Chamber) of the Federal Assembly (Parliament) of the Russian Federation on the 21 March 2001, approved by the Council of Federation (Upper Chamber) and forwarded to the President of the Russian Federation for signature on the 4 April 2001. The President has rejected the afore-mentioned Federal Law on the 18 April 2001 proposing in his official letter to the Federal Assembly to set up a conciliatory commission of both Chambers in order to prepare the final version of the Federal Law. The Draft Federal Law is available in temporary version.
The document defines the concepts of: 1. coastal fisheries – economic activity related to fisheries carried out in internal sea, territorial sea of the Russian Federation, including catch (harvest) of aquatic biodiversity, transhipment and landing of catch to fish-processing organizations situated on the coastal zone or to fish-processing vessels; 2. lease of water-objects destined for fisheries for the purpose of carrying out industrial fish-farming means carrying out charged fisheries economic activity on contractual basis concluded in accordance with Civil Code, Water Code and the present Federal Law; 3. fish-farming – rearing of fish, other aquatic animals and plants; 4. industrial fish-farming – entrepreneurial activity regarding growing fish and other aquatic animals and plants; 5. fisheries licence – document attesting the right of its holder to carry out some types of fisheries economic activity.
The document specifies that elaboration, validation and carrying out programs of the development of coastal fisheries and aquaculture in inland waters and territorial sea of the Territories, Regions and Provinces of the Russian Federation pertains to the sphere of competence of the respective Territorial, Regional and Provincial Authority. The Draft Federal Law provides that the use of aquatic biodiversity can be carried out in accordance with the licence for fisheries economic activities, the authorization for harvest of farmed species and other relevant permits.
Access free-of-charge to aquatic biodiversity for industrial fish-farming is made on a contractual basis. The concession contract must be established according to Federal Law on concession of aquatic resources intended for fisheries free-of-charge. However, such Law has not been adopted yet.
Until then, aquaculture will be regulated by Regional Laws (seven out of nine existing are currently available in the FAOLEX database), Federal Special Programs (FSP) and Regional Special Programs (RSP).
For more information on aquaculture legislation in Russian Federation please click on the following link:
National Aquaculture Legislation Overview - Russian Federation
In the period 1995–2004, research and development has been carried out at three levels: federal (State priorities), sectoral and regional.
Under the state priority research programmes, coordinated by the Ministry of Science, Industrial Policy and Technology, aquaculture research focused only on providing food for the population.
Most aquaculture research is carried out in the frame of sectoral programmes examined by the scientific–technical councils of the Ministry of Agriculture and the State Committee of Fisheries of Russia and approved by the governing bodies of the sector. Scientific organizations, large industrial enterprises and specialists of the governing organs of the sector take part in determining the subject of the programmes which cover a wide spectrum from research into biological characteristics of the cultured species and development of the biotechnology of its rearing to ecology, economics and production management. The research under these programmes is financed by the federal budget through the departments responsible for aquaculture development. Since 2000, the developer of any subject included in the sectoral programme has been identified on a competitive basis. In addition to sectoral subjects, the fisheries research organizations carry out research by contract with fish farms of different ownership, including farmers. In the period 1999–2004, the average annual financing of aquaculture research in the Russian Federation has amounted to US$ 1 500 000–2 000 000. All fisheries research organizations are under federal state ownership.
The State has currently given up the protectionist policy of introducing research results into industry. All scientific-technical achievements are now introduced into industry directly by the research organizations and the efficiency of this work is quite low.
Twelve research organizations of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and six research departments in institutes of higher education deal with aquaculture research in the Russian Federation. The research organizations where the volume of aquaculture research is not less 70 percent are shown in table below.
Middle-level fish breeding specialists receive training at three technical schools located in the central, southern and Siberian federal okrugs.
In the mid 1990s there was a sharp fall in aquaculture production. This was related to the national change of economic principles, the transition to market economy and, as a result, a worsening of the socio-economic situation in the country. Long-standing links in the “state-producer-market-consumer” chain were practically eliminated. As a result, the market was destabilized, especially at a time when the income of the population fell sharply. Fish-breeding farms faced some serious challenges:
At its current stage of development, Russian aquaculture does not have much influence on the environment, does not compete with other sectors of the agro-industrial complex and is not subject to limitations in use of water and ground areas.
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