Economy • 19 August, 2020

Kazakhstan exports 30 thousand tons of fish products to 36 countries

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At the government session chaired by Prime Minister Askar Mamin, Minister of Ecology, Geology and Natural Resources Magzum Mirzagaliyev reported on the development of fish farms. 

Our country, due to its rich and unique nature, has a fairly powerful fishery fund. There is a high export potential in this direction.  The main activities of the fishing industry are fishing, fish farming and processing. 

The total volume of the fish and fish products market in the country in 2019 amounted to about 66 thousand tons. Its structure is as follows:  Fishing — 45 thousand tons;  Fish farming — 7.4 thousand tons;  Export — 30 thousand tons;  Import — 43.5 thousand tons.  Kazakhstan imports ocean fish and seafood. These are herring, mackerel, shrimp, mussels and so on. Imports are made from Norway, Russia, Iceland, China and the Baltic countries.  In turn, Kazakhstan annually exports 30 thousand tons of fish products worth about $60 million to 36 countries of the near and far abroad.  “We mainly export fish fillets, dried-smoked products and frozen fish carcasses. For example, pike perch fillet is a Kazakh brand in the countries of the European Union (Germany, the Netherlands), dried-smoked products are exported to Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, China and other countries. At the same time, next to us there are significant potential markets for export,” Mirzagaliyev said. 

Kazakhstan is characterized by low per capita fish consumption. So, if the WHO recommends to consume at least 16 kg of fish products per year per person, then in Kazakhstan this figure is less than 4 kg. In turn, in neighboring Russia and China, 20-40 kg per person are consumed, respectively. Thus, taking into account the border areas, the potential niche for the export of fish products could be more than 3 million tons.    Fishing Today there are more than 1,000 subjects of fishery in Kazakhstan, which are assigned to 1,646 fishery reservoirs and their sections. The industry employs over 11 thousand people. In 2019, 45 thousand tons of fish were caught.  The main fishing is carried out in Atyrau, Almaty, East Kazakhstan and Kyzylorda regions.   

Aquaculture According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), aquaculture is the fastest growing animal protein industry in the world.  So, if 60 years ago the world volume of fish farmed was only 1 million tons, today this figure has exceeded 82 million tons. At the same time, in the last 25 years alone, the volume of aquaculture has grown by 67 million tons, or 450%, while the volume of fishing is at a stable level.  Kazakhstan also has great potential for the development of fish farming. Over the past 7 years, the volume of farmed fish has increased 9 times — from 800 tons to 7.4 thousand tons. Fish farming in the country is carried out by 180 fish farms, where more than 1 thousand (1,126) people are employed. According to Mirzagaliyev, they are extremely insufficient. 

"Farms for artificial cultivation should increase many times, in order to reach the WHO recommended consumption rate of 16 kg per capita, it is necessary to grow about 300 thousand tons," he said. 

The leader in artificial fish farming is Turkistan region with a volume of 5 thousand tons (68.7%), Almaty region — about 1,000 tons (12.8%), North Kazakhstan region — 380 tons and East Kazakhstan region — about 300 tons.  In February 2020, at a visiting meeting on the development of fish industry in Atyrau, Prime Minister Askar Mamin gave a number of instructions aimed at identifying the main barriers hindering the development of the industry. The ministry, together with business, have worked out these instructions and identified 3 blocks of issues that need to be focused on.

These are the reorientation of water bodies from fishing to fish farming, imperfect legislation and insufficient government support measures.  First. Having studied the reservoirs used only for commercial fishing, promising reservoirs for fish farming were identified, in which, according to expert estimates, it is possible to grow up to 600 thousand tons of fish per year. On this basis, the Fish Farming Zoning Scheme was developed. For example, in the Turkistan region on Shardar there is a potential for growing carp and sturgeon fish species, in the East Kazakhstan region in the Ust-Kamenogorsk and Bukhtarma reservoirs, it is possible to grow trout, whitefish species, in the Almaty region in the Bartogay and Kapshagay reservoirs and Lake Balkhash — trout, carp species of fish, in the North Kazakhstan, Kostanay, Akmola regions — whitefish and carp fish species, in the Mangystau region on the Caspian Sea — salmon and sturgeon, Kyzylorda region on the Aral Sea — carp species.

Along with this, all regions can develop other areas of fish farming, for example, using recirculating water technologies (closed water supply installations), as well as the development of pond and basin farms.  Just recently, the Research and Production Center for Fisheries has developed standard fish farming projects. This will allow the business to choose the appropriate type of farm, determine the type of fish, taking into account financial capabilities. 

Second. Having analyzed the current legislation, the ministry identified the following main problems.  Ban on the construction of fish farms and structures in the water protection zone. 

Overpayment for water consumption when raising fish, that is, fish farmers pay for the entire volume of water taken, while the bulk of the water is returned back. Therefore, only evaporation and filtration losses need to be paid.  Low share (49%) of consolidation of local water bodies.  The need to develop design and estimate documentation and undergo state examination for the construction of ponds and fish-breeding pools.  The need to compensate for losses during the construction of fish farms on agricultural land (today only fish hatcheries are exempt from compensation for losses).  The ministry has worked out amendments to the Tax, Water, Land Codes, as well as the Laws "On the Protection, Reproduction and Use of the Wildlife", "On Architectural, Urban Planning and Construction Activities" and are included in the relevant bill. The amendments are being coordinated with the interested state bodies and will be submitted to the Parliament in autumn.  Mirzagaliyev noted that in a number of countries where aquaculture has a successful development, there is a separate law regulating relations in the field of artificial fish farming. Therefore, the ministry considers it expedient to develop a Law “On Aquaculture”. 

Third. The development of fish farming is constrained by the lack of government support measures. Today, government support measures exist for feed, machinery and equipment for fish hatcheries and lakeside fish farms.  However, often akimats allocate funds for subsidizing fish farming on a leftover basis, motivating that fish farming is not a priority.  “According to the analysis, at the end of 2019, 407 million tenge of subsidies were allocated for fish feed. 81.5% of the total amount of subsidies or 332 million tenge was given by the Turkistan region. As I noted earlier, this region is the leader in fish production. In other words, this suggests that the development of the fishing industry is directly dependent on the volume of subsidies allocated. Therefore, we ask you to increase the volume of transfers to the regions to subsidize fish farming,” the minister said.  In this regard, the ministry worked out the issue of expanding the existing measures of state support with additional subsidies. 

First. Inclusion of new types of subsidies. These are subsidies of up to 50% of the cost of fish breeding and biological justification, the acquisition of fish stock, the cost of purchasing and maintaining replacement brood stocks of valuable fish species, etc.  Second. This is a reimbursement of part of the costs of creating and expanding a cage fish farm, a fish farm with a closed water supply cycle, as well as processing complexes.  These proposals were supported by the Ministry of Agriculture and regional akimats. 

Thus, taking into account the available water resources, there is a potential for an increase in the volume of fish farming up to 600 thousand tons, the volume of exports can be increased 10 times, attracted about 500 billion tenge of private investment, tax revenues to the budget could amount to about 28 billion tenge per year.  In addition, this will contribute to the creation of at least 100 thousand additional jobs and an increase in the income of the population, mainly in rural areas.  In conclusion, Mirzagaliyev noted that for a comprehensive solution of problematic issues, the ministry will continue systematic work on the development of fisheries.

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