Fish stocks in Russia’s Far East inspiring optimism

June 2, 2023 16:57

The current condition of the fish stocks make the Russian scientists recommend higher allowable catches of Alaska pollock and herring in the Far East Basin in 2024 — such optimistic forecast was given by Evgeny Ovsyannikov representing the Pacific branch of VNIRO fishery research institute at a scientific and practical forum in Vladivostok.

At the forum Evgeny Ovsyannikov, Head of the Alaska pollock and Herring Laboratory of TINRO, spoke about the potential of aquatic bioresources of the Far Eastern basin and the effectiveness of their use. He recalled that the Far East has been providing the bulk of Russian catches for more than a decade. Last year, 3.5 million tons, or 83% of the country's total catch, were contributed by the basin.

In 2022 the TAC in the Russian Far East was recommended at 5.2 million tonnes and it was actually covered at ca.70%. "That is, we have a reserve of 1.7 million tons," Yevgeny Ovsyannikov underlined.

In the Far Eastern basin, as usual, about 60% of the total catch was contributed by pollock — 1 million 927 thousand MT namely. The second top fishing species was herring with the total catch of 462 thousand tonnes. The third place was taken by Japanese pilchard Sardinops melanostictus - almost 300 thousand MT. Salmon catches totalled 272 thousand metric tons. Besides, about 500 thousand metric tons of other species were harvested in 2022, the scientist said.

The TACs of finfish stocks and crabs are well covered in the Far East, while shellfish and, especially, algae TACs remain uncovered.

The speaker drew attention to the fact that the current condition of the Alaska pollock stocks in the basin would let increase its catch by about 200 thousand metric tons the following year to 2.28 million metric tons. The main increase, by almost 88 thousand tons, can be expected for the Navarinsky district and the Sea of Okhotsk.

"Our research has shown that the Sea of Okhotsk has accumulated a very good potential of older fish, which give an increase in biomass. In addition, as our research shows, productive generations have appeared here. The other day, our vessel "Professor Kaganovsky" came from a comprehensive stock assessment trip. The presence of productive classes has been confirmed and it has been confirmed that the stock has not decreased. Surveys have shown that another productive class has appeared — that of last year. In 2026-2027, it can ensure the growth of resources," Yevgeny Ovsyannikov said.

The condition of herring stocks also makes it possible to increase the limits of its catch next year — by about 18 thousand tons.

"The increase will be contributed by the North Okhotsk and Karaganda subzones. The stocks are in a good condition there and with abundant classes that provide a good increase in biomass. It is expected that next year, taking into account the recommended catch volumes, it will be possible to harvest about 400 thousand metric tons of herring in total," Yevgeny Ovsyannikov said.

The catch of all aquatic biological resources in the Far Eastern basin on May 22, 2023 amounted to 1 million 502 thousand metric tons, +106 thousand MT year-on-year. The increase is mainly thanks to higher catches of Alaska pollock (+83 thousand MT) and herring (+17 thousand MT). Also, this year the Japanese pilchard fishery is progressing successfully with catches exceeding 5 thousand metric tons. Mackerel fishery has taken off quite well, Yevgeny Ovsyannikov noted.

"In the future, we expect that in the Far Eastern basin, the main fishing operations will be concentrated on Alaska pollock and herring. It is expected that we will have a slight increase in stocks of these species. In the coming years, apparently, in the main fishing areas — the Okhotsk and Bering Seas — we will not reduce APO and herring catches due to the fact that there is a good potential there," the representative of TINRO stressed.

In his opinion, Japanese pilchard will become another promising species. Now its catch reaches about 250-270 thousand metric tons, last year 299 thousand metric tons were caught. Experts recommend to catch 516 thousand tons, that is, this fishing stock is exploited by about half. Moreover, the stock‘s potential enables increase of catches. "If there is an interest of fishermen, we can consider this issue, because the resources allow," Yevgeny Ovsyannikov drew attention.

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