The Russian Federation (Russia) is the world’s third largest producer of wild-caught fisheries.1 Its national waters is also one of the world’s largest, containing waters in the Arctic and North Pacific Ocean — including one of the most productive fishing grounds in the world, the Bering Sea.2 Previous research has identified the Russian fishing sector as high-risk for illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing,3 labour exploitation and modern slavery.4
Russia has some elements of a fisheries governance system, yet it has demonstrated limited progress towards restoring fish stocks. Major gaps remain in relation to controlling the risk of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and the provision of harmful subsidies. Nearly half of Russia’s assessed fish stocks are below sustainable levels of abundance and are considered overfished. Additionally, 41 per cent of the total catch taken in Russian waters comes from stocks that are unassessed and of unknown sustainability. Russia must work to strengthen management, including actively working to recover overfished stocks and increase knowledge of unassessed stocks to advance towards SDG target 14.4.
To improve the sustainability of its fisheries, Russia should:
Progress towards SDG target 14.4
While Russia performs in the top quarter of countries globally for progress towards SDG target 14.4, it demonstrates limited progress towards ensuring all fish stocks within its waters are sustainably managed.
Seventeen of the 31 (55 per cent) fish stocks assessed in Russia are estimated to be at or above 40 per cent of their unfished levels of abundance – our definition of sustainable. These sustainable stocks account for 46 per cent of the total catch in Russia’s national waters.
Together, the 31 assessed stocks account for 59 per cent of the total catch in Russia’s national waters since 1990. The composition of Russia’s catch is dominated by a few, very large, assessed stocks. For example, three pollock (Gadus chalcogrammus) stocks account for 54 per cent of Russia’s total catch volume. Despite the relatively high number of stock assessments, the highly productive ecosystems and associated large size (in terms of volume) of Russia’s fisheries mean that the proportion of catch from unassessed stocks (41 per cent) represents over 92.6 million tonnes caught between 1990 and 2018 – more than the total marine catch in most countries.
Globally, Russia performs in the mid-range of countries for its governance capacity – and in the bottom one third of European and North American countries. Russia has some elements of a fisheries governance system that, where implemented, promotes sustainable fishing. However, major gaps remain, particularly in relation to controlling the risk of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and the provision of harmful subsidies.
Russia has a solid policy foundation with clearly stated environmental, economic and livelihood objectives. Despite commitments to major international agreements on fisheries management and conservation, stronger action is needed to ensure the protection of worker rights and safety in fisheries – for example, through ratification of the 2007 ILO Work in Fishing (No. 188) and the 2012 IMO Cape Town Agreement.
Russia has financial and professional capacity to manage its fisheries, based on the management measures in place and information available. Best-practice, intensive management measures are used in key fisheries, like pollock (Gadus chalcogrammus). This includes the use of harvest control rules – pre-determined rules that guide management action, based on the state of fisheries resources – which ensure that management decisions are based on scientific evidence. Additionally, nearly half the pollock catch is independently certified as sustainable.5 However, Russia is yet to apply the same standards across all fisheries.
Russia also lacks community-based and customary management systems, which can improve the sustainability of fisheries when other aspects of governance fail.6
Controlling access to fisheries resources remains a key governance challenge for Russia, particularly due to the limited use of spatial regulations, high level of foreign access and gaps in the licensing system. For example, there is evidence that licence requirements for foreign and domestic commercial fishing vessels are not consistently enforced. Additionally, foreign vessels operating under known ‘flags of convenience’ were detected in Russia’s waters in 2019.7 These issues suggest that the risk of illegal fishing occurring in Russian waters is high. The low perceived integrity of Russia’s enforcement of laws, rules and regulations8 may further undermine the effectiveness of the fisheries compliance management system.9 Encouragingly, however, Russia ratified the 2009 FAO Port State Measures Agreement in December 202010 – after this governance assessment was completed – the implementation of which will be critical to combatting IUU fishing.
High levels of fishing subsidies further complicate Russia’s efforts to ensure the sustainability of fishing in its waters. Nearly 80 per cent – worth approximately US$1.1 billion in 2018 – of Russia’s fisheries subsidies are linked to activities that promote overcapacity, including reduced fuel prices and tax exemptions. Eliminating these subsidies and redirecting financing into sustainable management is crucial for ensuring fisheries for the future.
|Progress score||32.5 out of 100|
|Total reconstructed catch in 2018||8.4 million tonnes|
|Total reconstructed catch (1990 to 2018)||227.8 million tonnes|
|Catch from sustainable stocks (1990 to 2018)||46%|
|Catch from overfished stocks (1990 to 2018)||13%|
|Catch from unassessed stocks (1990 to 2018)||41%|
|Governance capacity||Medium: Level 6 of 12|
Methods and data sources
Russia is considered part of the North American and European region. Refer to the Technical Methods for a detailed explanation of the methods used by the Minderoo Foundation to produce the 2021 Global Fishing Index. The Technical Methods should be read in conjunction with the Global Fishing Index Key Insights report, Governance Conceptual Framework and Indicator Codebook.
Russia’s Progress score was informed by 31 assessed fish stocks. Eleven stocks had recent published official stock assessments, including two assessments from regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs). The remaining 20 stocks were assessed using publicly available data and established data limited methods (CMSY++ or the Bayesian Schaefer Model).11, 12
Russia’s Governance assessment was informed by one questionnaire respondent, three interviews with local experts and the publicly available literature. Consulted references are listed in the Bibliography below. Our Governance assessment measures country-level fisheries governance, with eight indicators referring specifically to a country’s most valuable fishery, as identified by assessment respondents. The most valuable fishery identified for Russia was the walleye (Alaska) pollock, Gadus chalcogrammus.
The following sources informed Russia’s governance assessment:
Centre monitoring systems fisheries and communications (2020). About the institution. http://cfmc.ru/ [27 August 2020]
ConsultantPlus, "Russian Code of Administrative Offences" from 30.12.2001 N 195-Fz (ed. 26.05.2021) (2001).http://www.consultant.ru/document/cons_doc_LAW_34661/ [27 August 2020]
ConsultantPlus (2004). Federal Law of 20.12.2004 N 166-FH (Ed. 30.04.2021) "On Fisheries and Conservation of Aquatic Biological Resources". http://www.consultant.ru/document/cons_doc_LAW_50799/1229956d37baec3da991e00590a94b1495768103/ [27 August 2020]
ConsultantPlus, Fishery Law (2004).http://www.consultant.ru/document/cons_doc_LAW_50799/ [27 August 2020]
ConsultantPlus (2015). Federal fisheries agency – February 6, 2015 N 98. http://www.consultant.ru/cons/cgi/online.cgi?base=EXP&dst=&n=722744&req=doc#004511687745696613 [27 August 2020]
ConsultantPlus (2019). Federal Law of December (20, 2004 N 166-FZ, amended on July 26, 2019) "On Fisheries and the Conservation of Aquatic Biological Resources". http://www.consultant.ru/document/cons_doc_LAW_50799/aad8596d024fc5662adcc14c949c9c4d39efde19/ [27 August 2020]
ConsultantPlus (2020). Additional limitations for large-scale commercial fishing in the 12 nautical miles zone exists in the Basins' Fishing Rules. http://www.consultant.ru/document/cons_doc_LAW_326552/ [27 August 2020]
ConsultantPlus (2020). Annual Public Declaration on the website of Federal Fishery Agency. http://www.consultant.ru/document/cons_doc_LAW_326803/102a6d03f4c153edc09805d7ef79d5072abdd4f2/ [27 August 2020]
ConsultantPlus (2020). Federal Law "On the Federal Budget for 2019 and for the Planning Period 2020 and 2021" of 11.29.2018 N 459-ФЗ. http://www.consultant.ru/document/cons_doc_LAW_312362/462fb624f7d40de9bcc0c3705e07f7dc1f41fdf5/ [27 August 2020]
Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (2020). New edition of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation with comments and amendments for 2020-2021. http://ukodeksrf.ru/ [27 August 2020]
Dale, S., Robin, A. and Victor, R. (2013). Rights-based management in international tuna fisheries, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,, Rome, Italy, pp. 1-96. http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i2742e/i2742e.pdf [27 August 2020]
Federal Agency for Fisheries (2017). Annual Report of Federal Fisheries Agency 2017. http://fish.gov.ru/files/documents/otkrytoe_agentsvto/open_data/2017/opendata-otchet-2017god.pdf [27 August 2020]
Federal Agency for Fisheries (2017). Report on the implementation of the Public Declaration of the Federal Fishery Agency for 2017, Federal Agency for Fisheries, pp. 1-18. http://fish.gov.ru/files/documents/otkrytoe_agentsvto/open_data/2017/opendata-otchet-2017god.pdf [27 August 2020]
Federal Agency for Fisheries (2017). Presentation of the Public Declaration of the Federal Fishery Agency for 2017, Federal Agency for Fisheries, pp. 1-37. http://fish.gov.ru/files/documents/otkrytoe_agentsvto/open_data/2017/opendata-otchet-2017.pptx [27 August 2020]
Federal Agency for Fisheries (2017). Report of the Head of the Federal Fishery Agency, Deputy Minister of Agriculture of Russia – I.V. Shestakov on the results of the activities of the Federal Fishery Agency in 2017. http://fish.gov.ru/press-tsentr/vystupleniya-i-intervyu-rukovodstva/22193-doklad- [27 August 2020]
Federal Agency for Fisheries (2018). Strategic Plan of Fisheries Agency 2018, Rosribolov College, pp. 1-3. http://fish.gov.ru/files/documents/otkrytoe_agentsvto/plan-otchet/2018/public_decl_2018.pdf [27 August 2020]
Federal Agency for Fisheries (2019). Strategic Plan of Fisheries Agency 2019, Federal Agency for Fisheries, pp. 1-2. http://fish.gov.ru/files/documents/otkrytoe_agentsvto/plan-otchet/2019/public_decl_2019.pdf [27 August 2020]
Federal Agency for Fisheries (2020). State Fisheries Register. http://fish.gov.ru/otraslevaya-deyatelnost/organizatsiya-rybolovstva/gosudarstvennyj-rybokhozyajstvennyj-reestr [27 August 2020]
Federal Agency for Fisheries (2020). Annual Report of Federal Fisheries Agency. http://fish.gov.ru/press-tsentr/foto/39-otraslevaya-deyatelnost [27 August 2020]
Federal Agency for Fisheries (2020). Annual Public Declaration on the website of Federal Fishery Agency. http://fish.gov.ru/otkrytoe-agentstvo/public-declaration [27 August 2020]
Federal Agency for Fisheries (2020). Issuance, suspension and revocation of permits for the extraction (catch) of aquatic biological resources, as well as amendments to them. https://www.gosuslugi.ru/16631/7/info [27 August 2020]
Federal Agency for Fisheries (2021). Structure – Federal Agency for Fisheries. http://fish.gov.ru/ob-agentstve/struktura [21 September 2020]
Federal State Statistics Service (2009). Socio-economic indicators of the Russian Federation in 1992-2008, Federal State Statistics Service. http://www.gks.ru/doc_2009/year09_pril.xls [27 August 2020]
Federal Agency for Fisheries (2017). Russia Fisheries Strategic Plan until 2030, Federal Agency for Fisheries, pp. 1-62. http://fish.gov.ru/files/documents/files/proekt-strategiya-2030.pdf [27 August 2020]
Federal Agency for Fisheries (2020). Recommended list of documents for receipt permits for the extraction (catch) of the FBG, pp. 1-3. https://sztufar.ru/files/documents/10851.pdf [27 August 2020]
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Order No.524 of 1982 of the Fisheries Ministry of the USSR (1982).http://www.fao.org/faolex/results/details/en/c/LEX-FAOC032991 [18 June 2020]
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Provisional Regulation No. 86 of 1994 of the Federal Fisheries Committee (1994).http://www.fao.org/faolex/results/details/en/c/LEX-FAOC024078 [27 August 2020]
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2007). Fishery and Aquaculture Country Profiles – The Russian Federation. http://www.fao.org/fishery/facp/RUS/en [27 August 2020]
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2007). National Fishery Sector Review The Russian Federation, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,, pp. 1-16. http://www.fao.org/fishery/docs/DOCUMENT/fcp/en/FI_CP_RU.pdf [27 August 2020]
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Federal Law No. 330-FZ amending Criminal Code of the Russian Federation in relation to illegal fisheries (catch) of aquatic biological resources (2016).http://www.fao.org/faolex/results/details/en/c/LEX-FAOC156877 [27 August 2020]
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Federal Law No. 475-FZ “On artisanal fishing”. (2018).http://www.fao.org/faolex/results/details/en/c/LEX-FAOC183257 [27 August 2020]
Gina, A., Kristen, B., Katie, P. and Alana, Y. (2014). A global assessment of Territorial User Rights in Fisheries to determine viability in success and design, Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, University of California, Santa Barbara, pp. 1-132. http://www.bren.ucsb.edu/research/2014Group_Projects/documents/TURF_GP_Thesis_21March2014.pdf [27 August 2020]
GlobalSecurity (2020). Sea Guard of the Border Guard Services (Russia). https://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/world/russia/coast-guard.htm [18 June 2020]
Government of the Russian Federation, Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation of October 22, 2008 N 775 "On execution, issuance, registration, suspension and cancellation of permits for the extraction (catch) of aquatic biological resources, as well as on amendments to them" (with amendments and additions) (2008).http://base.garant.ru/12162984/ [27 August 2020]
Marketing.rbc (2020). There are 15 million fishing enthusiasts in Russia. https://marketing.rbc.ru/articles/8190/ [27 August 2020]
Judicial and regulatory acts of the Russian Federation (2020). Fisheries Rules for the Far Eastern Fisheries Basin. https://sudact.ru/law/prikaz-minselkhoza-rossii-ot-23052019-n-267/prilozhenie/ [18 June 2020]
Kamchatka Branch of the All-Russian Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography (2020). Kamchatka branch of the Federal state budget scientific institution "All-Russian Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography. http://www.kamniro.ru/ [27 August 2020]
Mercury Rosselkhoznadzor (2020). FGIS Mercury. https://mercury-vetrf-ru.ru/gis [27 August 2020]
Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, The order of the Ministry of Agriculture on the approval of the list of measures for the implementation of the National Plan of Action for the Prevention, Deterrence and Elimination of IUU Fishing (2014).http://docs.cntd.ru/document/499090553 [18 June 2020]
Ministry of Labor and Social Proection (2019). Analytical information of Fish Farming and Fishing 2019, Ministry of Labor and Social Proection, Russian Federation, pp. 1-62. http://spravochnik.rosmintrud.ru/storage/app/media/Pebolovctvo_2019.pdf [27 August 2020]
Nizhnevartovsk State University (2020). Federal Agency for Fisheries and its field of activity. https://studfile.net/preview/4395562/page:6/ [27 August 2020]
Pitcher, T. and Ganapathiraju, P. (2006). An Estimation of Compliance of the Fisheries of Russia with Article 7 (Fisheries Management) of the UN Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing, in: Tony J Pitcher, G.P., Daniela Kalikoski (Ed.). Evaluations of Compliance with the UN Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries., Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, pp. 1-28. [27 August 2020]
Pollock Catchers Association (2019). Pollock Fishermen Association | Pollock catch in 5 months of 2019 exceeded 1 million tons. http://pollock.ru/press-czentr/novosti-otrasli/vyilov-mintaya-za-5-mesyaczev-2019-goda-prevyisil-1-mln.-tonn.html [27 August 2020]
Pollock Catchers Association (2015). Stock assessment | Russian Pollock. http://russianpollock.com/stock/stock-assessment/ [27 August 2020]
Russian Federation, Federal Law "On Fisheries and the Conservation of Aquatic Biological Resources" dated 20.12.2004 N 166-FZ (last edition) / ConsultantPlus (2004). Russia.http://www.consultant.ru/document/cons_doc_LAW_50799/ [27 August 2020]
State Committee of the Russian Federation, On the procedure for amending and supplementing the Fishing Rules (2001).http://docs.cntd.ru/document/901812884 [27 August 2020]
The Garant (2019). Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation of November 26, 2019 No. 2798-r On approval of the development strategy of the fishery complex of the Russian Federation for the period until 2030 and an action plan for its implementation. https://www.garant.ru/products/ipo/prime/doc/72972854/ [27 August 2020]
The Garant (2008). Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation of October 22, 2008 N 775 "On registration, issue, registration, suspension and cancellation of permits for the extraction (catch) of aquatic biological resources, as well as on amendments to them". https://base.garant.ru/12162984/ [27 August 2020]
Rossiyskaya gazeta (2013). Russian fisheries legislation includes the National Plan of Action for the Prevention, Deterrence and Elimination of IUU Fishing. https://rg.ru/2013/12/30/promysel-site-dok.html [27 August 2020]
Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology (2016). Russian Federation – 2016 List of Authorised Fishing Vessels for NPFC CA, Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology,. https://www.npfc.int/compliance-information/vessel_list_2016/Russia [27 August 2020]
Yandex Zen (2020). Fisheries Regulation. https://zen.yandex.ru/media/sobolev/pravila-rybolovstva-dlia-vseh-regionov-rossii-skachat-5c506d56c9fd5600ae460f60 [27 August 2020]