Federal Fishing Agency
The Federal Fishing Agency, FFA (or Rosrybolovstvo) plays the central role in managing Russian fisheries, including Pollock in the West Bering Sea and Sea of Okhotsk. Established by Presidential Decree No. 724 on 12 May 2008, FFA replaced the pre-existing State Committee for Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture. Due to recent changes in the Russian Government structure (May 2012), the FFA has got back to operate under the Ministry of Agriculture. The key functions and organization structure have remained unchanged.
By decrees and recent amendments, the FFA:
- develops laws, orders, and rules related to fishery management;
- manages the protection, rational use, study and reproduction of aquatic biological resources and their habitats;
- delivers public services in the area of fisheries, conservation, sustainable use, study, preservation and reproduction of aquatic biological resources and their habitat;
- provides safety and rescue operations in the fishing areas;
- coordinates production activities related to ports and vessel maintenance.
Key FFA functions
TAC setting. FFA sets and allocates TACs each year for the Alaska pollock and other species in the Russian Far East basin. In this role it cooperates with scientific research institutes such as VINRO, TINRO and regional scientific centers such as KamchatNIRO and MagadanNIRO to determine TACs for each sub-zone in the fishery.
Consultation in the TAC setting process. The TAC setting process involves the FFA, working with scientific institutions regional management agencies, fishing companies, and NGOs in consultative decision-making process. As an opportunity for external review, the FFA submits proposed TACs to State Ecological Expertise made by the Ministry of Natural Resources. State Ecological Expertise is a scientific and expert panel which is formed of scientists independent from the FFA management system (mostly from Russian Academy of Science). A public ecological expertise also seeks opinions from citizens and NGOs. When results of ecological expertise are received and taken into account, FFA approves the TACs formally and distributes them.
Scientific Research and Survey. FFA provides the legal and administrative mandate for scientific survey, research and monitoring to be conducted in Russian fisheries through the Federal research centers of TINRO and regional research centers, such as KamchtNIRO, and MagadanNIRO. Collectively, these Institutes are heavily involved in the scientific endeavour of Russian Pollock fisheries. Survey and research activities in the pollock fisheries are carried out on an autonomous, scientific and objective basis through these regional expert centers, which are inter-connected and coordinated through both formal discussion and decision making processes and federally, through the coordinating research center VNIRO in Moscow. There is also an extensive, on-going informal basis to research in Russian fisheries which ensures healthy collaboration of research themes, sharing of data and formal reports. TINRO-Center and regional scientific centers publish substantial amounts of research through the internal publishing.
Monitoring, control, and enforcement. The FFA cooperates with the Federal Security Service (FSB) to meet monitoring, control and enforcement responsibilities. In this role, FFA issues fish permits, collects and processes daily vessel catch (DVR) reports, monitors satellite-based VMS data, and manages the Center of Fishery Monitoring and Communications (CFMC). The FFA maintains a Fishery Monitoring System (FMS) and supports the CFMC collects, stores, processes, and distributes all fishery data. It includes daily statistics about the volumes of ABRs harvested, processed, trans-shipped, and transported by individual vessels. It provides real-time vessel position and allows authorities to spot distortions suggesting illegal activities. While the FSB conducts enforcement and inspections at-sea and in-port in cooperates with FFA to share data through the CFMC.
Territorial administration. The FFA assigns fishery management and control functions to Territorial FFAs; such as Kamchataka FFA in the WBS. Territorial FFAs are responsible to issue fish permits, monitor fish catches, and process operational reports. They also help maintain regional FMS centers. The hub of the Far East Fisheries Basin FMS network is the Kamchatka FMC and its Territorial administrations (Magadan, Primorsky, and Sakhalin regions).
Territorial divisions of the FFA is also responsible for issueing EU Catch Certificates for all export shipments in accordance with EU Council Regulation (EC) No. 1005/2008 establishing a community system to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing.
Observation. The FFA territory departments deploy observers to the fishery. Each FFA Far East territorial division (there are 4 FFA divisions in the Russian Far East) must send at least 2–3 inspectors to work onboard of the commercial vessels harvesting pollock in the Sea of Okhotsk. The tasks of the FFA inspectors being onboard and observing the fishery are the following:
- Coordination of vessels harvesting fish in the Sea of Okhotsk;
- Collection of the data on Pollock fishing status and fishing conditions;
- Collection of the information about Pollock catches allocation, size and age catch composition, roe yield, by-catch of juvenile and other species, sex composition, samples collection to determine fish age (scale, sagittae);
- Analysis of the collecting information to the data from commercial vessels from DRV reports and Fishery Monitoring System;
- Making suggestion to impose restrictions or changes to the fishing regulations (for example, they can suggest to the FFA to close a certain area of the Sea if there is a high level of juvenile by-catch).
All data collecting by the FFA inspectors are submitted to the Coordination group by radio channels, and then to the Fishery Monitoring System. The key goal of the FFA inspectors within the Coordinative group is to gather operative information about the fishery to make quick management decisions, including revision of management tools and analysis management strategy efficiency.
Operational management. The FFA coordinates fishery management during the fishing season. FFA manager hold regular (weekly) conference calls with heads of FFA territorial administrations, FSB/GMI departments, scientific institutes, observers at sea, and fishing companies to review and forecast conditions across the Sea of Okhotsk.
Implementation of Fishing Rules. In an operational sense, FFA adopts the Fishing Rules that define catch limits, seasons, gears, and areas for legal fishing. The Fishing Rules include standard fishery regulations describing the responsibilities of the fishing operator, list of documents to be available onboard, prohibited areas and seasons, species prohibited for fishing, fishing gear regulations, minimal commercial size of fish and other harvestable species, and by-catch regulations. There are requirements to submit daily vessel reports (DVRs), maintain VMS, and follow rules restricting by-catch, prohibited areas and seasons, prohibited species, fishing gear regulations, minimal catch size, and other operational rules. These Fishing Rules set out the key management measures for the Russian Pollock fisheries in the Sea of Okhotsk (and WBS).
Industry and Public participation. The FFA advocates the right for public participation in the fishery management process which is set out in the Federal Law on Fisheries. The FFA has Community Council as a way to promote transparency, cooperation and dialogue with scientific, non-governmental, and public organizations. The FFA establishes the regional fishery & scientific council, which coordinate proposals from the fishing industry and adopt them to the management system.