At a meeting on Wednesday, February 12, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine approved several changes in agricultural and fisheries sectors developed by the Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO). How will these changes affect our lives?
A domestic register of producers of organic products certified to the Ukrainian standard will be developed for the first time in Ukraine. Previously, producers either registered such products according to international standards, or did not have such standardization at all compromising the consumers’ confidence in the “organic” label. With the introduction of open registers of producers of organic products, the information on organic producers certified according to national standards will be available online. A producer that fails to comply with organic standard rules will not receive certification and will be removed from public registers. From now on, only those producers that are certified to the Ukrainian standard while being included in the relevant registers will have the marking with the Ukrainian “organic” logo. “Organic” products without such certification should be removed from store shelves. In such a way, anyone can check any products labeled organic by using a special code in the open register and see whether the production of these products meets the organic standard rules or such marking is unfair advertising.
Experts from the Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO) proposed requiring business entities to equip vessels with remote control technologies – GPS sensors that will allow to monitor their movement through water areas. First and foremost, this initiative will protect responsible fishermen who suffer from unfair competition from poachers hiding the amount of fish caught due to the lack of control over the movement of fishing vessels. The sensor signals will be monitored by the appropriate authorities that will identify possible violations, such as illegal fishing. This is a fully European practice, according to which the liability for failure to install the technical equipment on ships is envisaged.
The fee for the special use of aquatic bioresources, which are our common wealth used by business for generating revenues, has not been revised for 10 years. Today, the fisherman has to pay only 116.72 hryvnias in the budget for industrial catch of one ton of red mullet, the market price of which is, on average, 160.000 hryvnias. BRDO experts suggested that the government should revise the fee considering the 10-year inflation rate and increase it by 3.4 times. Thus, catching one ton of red mullet fish will cost 396.85 hryvnias against 160.000 hryvnias of its market price.
In addition, BRDO experts believe that the funds received for the special use of aquatic bioresources should be used for the development and restoration of the fishing industry, for example, stocking of fish, aquaculture development and so on. This requires legislative changes.
In addition to the above initiatives, the government approved the criteria supported by BRDO experts, which assess the degree of risk of metrological enterprises and determine periodic scheduled state supervision (control) measures.
However, the Government has not yet adopted a resolution on the Strategy for the Development of the Fishing Industry in Ukraine as a comprehensive document that should shape government policy in the fisheries sector. What is proposed in the document?
Despite having access to the Black and Azov Seas and the extensive river and lake system, Ukraine imports up to 70% of all fish consumed. In 10 years, the catch rate has decreased by 60% and the illegal fishery volume is 43% higher than the legal one. These indicators are a result of the lack of a state fisheries development policy that should envisage funding for the restoration of bioresources, increased penalties for their illegal use as well as increased transparency of economic activities in the sector. These tasks formed the basis of the strategy for the development of the fishing industry drafted by the relevant government bodies such as the State Agency for Fisheries and the Ministry of Energy and Environment Protection with the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and European Union through the project “Support to Agricultural and Food Policy Implementation” (SAFPI). Within a few months, the Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO) has advocated the implementation of the Strategy in the Ministry of Energy and Environment Protection and the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and recommended its adoption by the Government.
The changes proposed by the document include combating illegal, unreported and uncontrolled fishing, in particular through the introduction of a traceability system for aquatic bioresources. This is an electronic service that will register all transaction with fish products from suppliers to distributors. This will help to make fisheries legal and strengthen responsibility for the illegal use of aquatic bioresources, if, for example, a batch of fish with no relevant information in the electronic service has been identified.
In addition, the draft resolution contains rules on the promotion of aquaculture in Ukraine – artificial fish cultivation. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in European countries, the volume of aquaculture exceeds the fishing volume (fishing in the rivers or the sea without pre-cultivation of fish) by 17%. In Ukraine, the fishing volume is three times higher than the volume of aquaculture.
The BRDO experts are convinced that it is necessary to impose higher fines for illegal fishing as the next step together with the introduction of the electronic system, because the amount of punishment is not proportional to the damage to aquatic resources. In particular, fines amounting to 5.8 million hryvnias, of which only 2.3 million hryvnias were paid, were imposed by fishery management authorities in 2018. At the same time, the state losses caused by poachers amounted to 27.9 million hryvnias, of which only 1.7 million hryvnias were paid.
The BRDO team encourages the Government to approve the Strategy for the Development of the Fishing Industry, thereby making a significant step towards the effective use of shared natural resources.