The issue also concerns tighter legislation concerning environmental law when it comes to fishing " />

Abkhazia bans export of unprocessed fish in an attempt to help local businesses survive

The issue also concerns tighter legislation concerning environmental law when it comes to fishing


Seiners moored in Sukhum. Photo: Ibrahim Chkadua, JAMnews

The government of Abkhazia has found it unprofitable to export unprocessed fish, as local processing plants can not operate at full capacity due to a lack of raw materials.

The Abkhaz government has thus placed a ban on the export of fish.

Moreover, an additional 7,000 tonnes of anchovies – the main commercial fish species in the Black Sea – was caught this season compared to last year, reaching a total of 27,000 tonnes.

But the local market can handle only a few tonnes of fresh anchovies. The rest of the fish will go for processing at seven enterprises engaged in the production of fish meal. After that, the product will be sold entirely to Turkey.

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A means of stimulating local business

It was at the insistent request of local producers that the ban was imposed on the export of fresh fish.

This measure does not solve the problem of full loads at fish-processing plants, since their total capacity is about ten times higher than the amount of fish that fishermen can catch.

However, manufacturers are satisfied as they will now have less downtime.

Ecological consequences of increasing fish production

There has been a long-going discussion about the volume of fish caught and the fishing methods used in Abkhaz society, and many critical concerns have been raised.

However, Saveli Chitanava, chairman of the committee on environment and nature conservation in Abkhazia, believes that there are no threats, and that the current, increased, seasonal quota has been determined based on an analysis of previous fishing seasons.

“We analyze the processes and send all the information to the Institute of Ecology in Moscow, and they, in turn, get their answers from the Azov-Black Sea Fishery, which analyzes and makes forecasts for the next season,” he said.

Chitanava disagrees with statements that the current quota of 27,000 tonnes of anchovies is excessive.

“Compare it with the Turkish and Georgian quotas – these are, respectively, 300 thousand tons and 100 thousand tonnes,” says Chitanava.

Local ecologist and director of the Institute of Ecology, Roman Dbar, agrees with him:

“When a quota is established, it should not exceed 30-35 per cent of the total reserves of anchovies in the coastal waters of Abkhazia. The current numbers fit with this standard,” he says.

The committee on ecology and nature conservation will look more closely at the issue of predatory fishing.

Anchovies can only be caught by purse trawls, as other types of seiners are not allowed to fish anchovies during the season.

The committee also intends to solve the main problem of fishing that occurs within 500 metres from the coast. When a seiner comes too close to the shore, it destroys the bottom microflora, and the consequences are serious not only for fish, but for the whole ecology of the sea.

A categorical ban on fishing within 500 metres from the coast was adopted in Abkhazia long ago. Now the committee intends to achieve full compliance.

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