Russian fleet commerce is absolutely alienated from foreign markets
Russian ship-owners in the Far East have to buy used vessels to renew the outdated fleet. Despite the absence of the specialized vessel-selling market in Russia, fleet commerce has become rather active over the past two or three years.
Maria Lomeyeva, an expert on ship brokering firm Meza Marin said, fleet commerce both in the Far East and in Russia on the whole is absolutely alienated from normal civilized foreign markets. "Russian ship-owners can only work in Russia and this is the most important problem to date. Only a few of them use agents and only large companies are monitoring the market," the expert said.
However, the ship market in Russia's Far East is monitored by small companies. Medium and small tonnage vessels are most popular among Russian fishermen. Such vessels arrive in the Far East from Russia's Kamchatka region. Large tonnage ships are mostly moved to Africa, because it is more profitable to take a ship to an offshore zone and work at a local base there. Nobody is interested in large floating bases anymore. Viktor Makarov from the company Turnif believes, the "sea monster's" time is over, because they require a lot of work to maintain them, which is economically unprofitable. Russian fishermen are mostly interested in workshops-outfitted trawlers: such vessels save the working time and reduce costs. It is rather hard to find and purchase such vessels, though, because no one wants to part with such profitable vessels. Trawlers' lowest price is about $1.5 million and it reaches up to three million. However, the vessels are rather outdated - they are 20 years old. Trawlers of the Polish production are very popular among Russian fishermen too. Before the peretstroika era, Polish businessmen were working very actively in Russia's Far East. They managed to set up a powerful shipbuilding industry in ten years - Polish trawlers were widely sold to the USSR. Workshops for the Polish trawlers were equipped by the German firm Bader. Polish businessmen were the first to deliver filleted fish on the European food market, investing the profit in the modernization of the fleet. Foreign businessmen were later ousted from Russian seas and their vessels were sold in Russia. At present time, Russia does not have any projects to build new vessels. Furthermore, even large fishing companies cannot afford Danish, Finnish, Norwegian trawlers. "They are very expensive. They cost up to eight million dollars, if they were built in 1990. New vessels cost almost $35 million. Russian ship-owners have repeatedly asked the government either to withdraw or reduce customs fees, but nothing has been changed at this point. That is why Europe and the USA do not see any perspective to cooperate with Russia in the field," Viktor Makarov said.
Cooperation with Asian Pacific countries could be a good alternative to Russia. Yet, such cooperation has peculiar features too. "Japanese and Korean vessels do not suit Russian regulations. They are relatively cheap, although there is no demand for them," Meza Marin's specialist Yulia Grishkevich said. Asian countries do not produce ice class vessels, which is very important for successful navigation in the Far East. Nobody needs a tanker or a boat that can work only six months a year.
Far Eastern ship-owners believe it is not hard to buy a used old vessel in Russia. A lot of them can be bought from Baltic states, for example - they are cheaper, but it costs $200,000 to take them to the Far East. The spending will be compensated if a vessel carries a cargo on board. Yet, buying vessels is another region is rather problematic, because local governments do not provide any industrial quotas for vessels.