Aquaculture for all

Fisheries And Aquaculture In Kazakhstan: Governance And Institutional Frameworks


The fourth in a number of articles looking at fisheries and aquaculture in Kazakhstan looks at the government and institutional frameworks. Written by Timirkhanov, S., Chaikin, B., Makhambetova, Z., Thorpe, A. and van Anrooy, R. from the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Circular.


Fisheries Administration

The government is currently in the process of rationalizing fisheries management. A World Bank study (2004) noted that at least four departments within the Ministry of Agriculture and a number of other government agencies all had remits that involved different aspects of fisheries management.

This was partly ameliorated following the re-creation of the State Fisheries Committee in 2003 as a new entity (albeit subordinate to the Committees for Water Resources and Hunting and Fishing, and the Veterinary and Science Departments) within the Ministry of Agriculture. The Fisheries Committee, based in Astana, has a current staff of 23 people (Table 17), and is responsible for overseeing the country’s ameliorated 11 fish reproduction complexes.


Staff responsibilities (and number) in the Fisheries Committee in Kazakhstan

Unit Staff
Management 3
Department of protection, reproduction and regulation of fish resources and other water animals 2
Division of fish resources protection and fishery instruction 4
Division of fish reproduction and fishery development 4
Department of finance and administrative juridical work 2
Division of financial accounts and state procurement 2
Division of administrative and juridical work 4
Support staff 2

At the national level, the Fisheries Committee is charged with the planning and management of the country’s fisheries (including aquaculture), and is responsible for representing Kazakhstan in regional bodies dealing with fisheries related issues. The 2003 reform also introduced eight regional Interregional Basin Departments, which are tasked with managing the distribution of fishing quotas, licensing fisher enterprises and data collection. At the oblast level, local leaders (Akimats) are charged with coordinating activities to protect local fish stocks and ensure their replenishment.Fishery training, research and extension

Fisheries research does not fall directly under the domain of the Fisheries Committee, but rather under the Science Department of the Ministry of Agriculture. Four national higher education institutions offer courses in fisheries research and training:

  • The S. Seyfulin Kazakh Agrotechnical University (Astana)
  • The Al Farabi Kazakh National University (Almaty)
  • The National Аgrarian University (Almaty)
  • West-Kazakhstan Agrarian University (Uralsk)

These institutions have little direct connection with the Fisheries Committee. In 2007–2008, 100 students (65 Kazakh, 35 Russian) were awarded grants to pursue university-level courses in fisheries related themes at the four institutions.

There are also a number of other institutions tasked with undertaking research in the aquaculture and fishing industry. The most important of these are:

  • Kazakhstan Agency of Applied Ecology Ltd. More information can be found on the following Web site:
  • Kazakh Fisheries scientific Research Institute, which has a head office in Almaty and six regional branches, provides technical and research support to the Fisheries Committee. The institute’s main activities include: evaluation of reservoirs for use by the fishery sector, developing recommendations for restocking of reservoirs, ecological monitoring, aquaculture development and demonstration activities, and fisheries management advisory services (
  • KazAgroInnovation is a joint-stock company under the Ministry of Agriculture which (via the Fisheries scientific Research Institute) undertakes scientific research within the fisheries field, specifi cally in subjects related to the ecological monitoring of reservoir fish stocks and on the development of commercial sturgeon farming technology (based at the Kapshagay complex in Almaty oblast). Fishery statistics

Local fisheries inspectors (about 600) collect local catch data, which are collated on a monthly basis by the regional basin-level administrations. The data are passed on to the Fisheries Committee to produce aggregate totals. Data on exports and imports of fish and fish-related products are collected by the Customs Control Agency and sent to the national Fisheries Committee.

A vessel registry is maintained by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, while data on vessels deployed in the national fisheries is compiled by the Fisheries Committee on the basis of returns made by companies tendering for quota allocations. The Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Statistics provides an annual report on capture and culture fisheries based on the figures provided by the institutions above. However, the World Bank (2004) cautions that: “Most (if not all) of the fisheries under-report their catch numbers both to the Statistics Agency and to the inspectors in order to avoid taxes and other fees. So actual catches are probably several times higher, and likely exceed quotas.” Studies by FAO (Sarieva et al., 2008 and Karimov et al., 2009) in the markets in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan report on large volumes of Kazakh reservoir fish illegally exported to markets in Biskek and Chinaz, in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, respectively.

Fisheries related organizations

Kazakhstan encourages the establishments and activities of professional unions which offer specialist support to their members (as well as undertake lobbying on items of special interest to the members). Currently, there is one national organization that can be considered as representing all Kazakh fishers – the Association of Fishery, Fishing-process, Fish-farming and Fish-trading Enterprises of Kazakhstan. As the association was established in 2008, it still needs to prove itself. At the regional level, a number of associations of fish producers and natural resource users have emerged, many only in recent years. These include, among others:

  • The Association of Fish producers in the Balkash area is dominated by the joint-stock company Balkhash Balyk5, and is lake centric.
  • Aral Tenizi, formed as a public union by fishers on the Aral Sea, was established in 1998. It works towards the restoration on the North Aral Sea as a freshwater lake and supports local fishers and their families. Training programmes are offered and the union has recently opened its own fish processing company Kambala-Balyk LLP. Membership exceeds 300, and 14 local volunteer centres have been established to further disseminate information on the sea and the activities of Aral Tenizi (Thorpe and van Anrooy, 2009).
  • Association of Commercial Fishery of Kazakhstan “Kazrybprom”. This association is grouped around 10 fishery enterprises and is based in Almaty.
  • Association of Fishery Production and Trade Companies – based in Almaty.
  • Virtual Club of Fishermen.
  • “House of Fishermen” public association – based in Kostanai.

International cooperation in fisheries management and development In December 2003, Government representatives from Azerbaijan, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan signed a framework convention on managing the Caspian Sea, but its ratifi cation took almost three years. This resulted in the establishment of the 2007-2009 “Caspian Riparian Countries: The Regional Programme for Joint Management, Preservation and Sustainable Utilisation of Bioresources of the Caspian”. President Nursultan Nazarbaev ratifi ed the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea at the end of 2008.

Kazakhstan is also participating in the Commission on Aquatic Bioresources (CAB) of the Caspian Sea. The CAB consists of offi cials of national fisheries agencies of the Caspian Sea range states. Initially the representatives of only four Caspian states were members of the CAB (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan), but in 2002 Iran (Islamic Republic of) also became a member.

The CAB is a so-called interagency body. The chairmanship of CAB rotates every two years among the five countries. During the two-year period, the chairing country also acts as the CAB Secretariat. CAB has the following objectives:

  • Coordination among range states on conservation and exploitation of Caspian aquatic bioresources;
  • Scientific collaboration and data exchange, including conducting joint research (stock assessment);
  • Regulation of fishing based on scientific data; and
  • Determination of TAC and export quotas of shared stocks.

In the mid-1990s, the Danish Society for a Living Sea (DSLS) was instrumental in helping to resurrect the Aral Sea fishery, supplying a combination of nets, fibreglass vessels, freezing stations and technical expertise to help local fishers target flounder. DSLS was also highly supportive to the endeavours of the non-governmental organization Aral Tenizi in its early years.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of Turkey (MARA) invited Kazakh fisheries and aquaculture experts on several occasions in 2006 and 2007 to the Republic of Turkey to participate in study tours, workshops, exhibitions and training sessions. For instance, the“Workshop on the Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan” was conducted under a joint project of MARA and the Turkish International Cooperation Agency (TICA) in Bodrum, Turkey, in April 2006. These partners brought over 20 experts from Central Asia to Future Fish Eurasia 2007, held in Istanbul, Turkey, in October 2007.

October 2010