Food security is one of the most important problems of Russia´s economy. Scientific researches show that the majority of agribusiness sectors in Russia have already exceeded their threshold limits of food security. And fishery is not an exception. Products of the fishing industry are an essential part of balanced nutrition and a valuable source of animal proteins. Moreover, fishing industry in the world, and especially in coastal countries, is regarded as one of the most vital factors of food security of the country and plays an important role in providing population with fish products.
According to Russia´s official statistics, the harvest in 2006 consisted of 3263992 tonnes (101,6% in comparison with the previous year); seafood production, including canned seafood amounted for 346502 tonnes (102,6%) . Seafood export increased yearly, having reached a level of about 1,1 million tonnes. At the same time, seafood import also rose considerably, and was estimated to be 686109,7 tonnes.
As a result, the Russians consume 13,1 kg of seafood a year, which is almost two times less then recommended by the Russian Institute of Nutrition, which advises to eat about 23,7 kg of seafood a year for the average person). Moreover, seafood consumption differs considerably in the Russian regions. This is caused by their peculiarities, geographical location, current financial state and lack of stable relations between them. For example, consumption in the Far East Federal District reaches 22,5 kg, in the North-Western District - 18,2 kg, Central - 14,3 kg, Ural - 14,2 kg, Siberian - 11,7 kg, Southern - 10,4 kg and in the Volga Federal District - 9,9 kg.
In general, the Russian regions are being unequally supplied with fish products, except for Moscow and the Arkhangelsk, Kaliningrad, Moscow, Murmansk and Primorsky regions. Population prefers frozen fish, light-salted and smoked seafood, as well as many types of canned seafood. However, the quality of many products available on the consumer market, does not always meet all the standards. According to the Russian Agency for Health and Consumer Rights, in 2006, 35% of national and 21% of imported goods were of a poor quality.
It should be mentioned, that fishery is a subsidized branch of economy. World investments into the fishing industry are about 120 billion dollars, but the revenues do not exceed 70 billion dollars. Positive effect is achieved through profit distribution in fishing sales and processing sectors. Governments are focusing on improving fish resource management in the 200-mile zone, where the majority of fish is being caught, as well as support the fishing industry. Unfortunately, this scheme is not efficiently used in Russia.
Unlike Russia, seafood consumption in the leading countries varies from 19 kg till 100 kg per capita (Netherlands - 19 kg, Italy - 20 kg, France - 25 kg, Denmark - 31 kg, Norway - 55 kg, Japan - 72 kg, Island - 100 kg) . Average consumption level in Europe is 20 kg per capita a year, i.e. twice as much as in Russia.
In many countries, seafood is not only a source of animal protein, but also contributes to the development of the domestic fishing industry, as it brings foreign currency to the country´s budget. In the structure of the international food trade, seafood have a higher quote than many other products. According to the FAO, export from the developing countries to the developed ones exceeds 13 billion dollars, which is much higher than export of meat, rice, coffee, tea and bananas. Such countries as Canada, Norway and Island, export seafood for over 3 billion dollars a year, but not at the expense of the domestic market.
The state keeps its food independence, if import does not exceed 25% of the domestic consumption. In Russia, the level of seafood import has already exceeded the critical point of economic security (since 2001 import amounts to nearly 30% of the seafood consumption in the country), although Russia has great resources of food fish.
Russia´s seafood export, mainly from its Far East, consists of raw products. More than 80% of the total export is frozen fish. Export of canned shellfish accounts for 6,63% and fish fillet - 5,53%. Russia exports seafood in more than 20 countries: Korea, China, U.S.A., Japan, Gibraltar, Singapore, Virgin Islands, Germany, Mauritania, Panama and other.
At the same time, about 70% of import is also inexpensive frozen fish (herring, poutassou and etc.), which is mainly consumed in the European part of Russia. Import of canned seafood (12,08%) and fish fillet (7,78%) also remains considerable.
Active development of seafood export from Russia does not results from a balance between import and export. On the contrary, export of seafood, which is also demanded in the home market, stimulates its import from abroad, but for a higher price.
However, seafood import cannot and should not be limited by governmental measures only. In our opinion, a complex state policy is needed to support national fish market and producers. Growing domestic demand for seafood can be satisfied by means of a modern wholesale seafood trading system, especially in Russia´s coastal regions; crediting seafood trading in futures contracts; renewing state orders for seafood production, including canned seafood.
To sum up, a priority task for the fishing industry in Russia should be food security, which means availability of seafood and one´s access to it in all Russian regions; its availability for all social groups; support of a balance between prices and incomes in the country.
- Official website of the Russian Federal State Statistics Service: http://www.gks.ru
- Why is the seafood consumption so low in modern Russia? / Gavrilov R. V. // Fishing industry. - 2006. - №2. p.17.
The work was submitted to IV international scientific conference «Basic Research», Dominican Republic, April, 12-22, 2009, came to the editorial office 26.02.2009