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Fisheries And Aquaculture In Kazakhstan: Policy, Regulatory And Management Frameworks


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

Policy and planning

Fisheries policy is enshrined in a number of national and sectoral development plans, decrees and programmes. In chronological order, the relevant policy documents are:

The Innovative Industrial Development Strategy of the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2003 2015. This strategy seeks to develop a competitive export-oriented goods sector, with processed fish products mentioned as one potential avenue to consider.

State Rural Areas Development Programme for 2004–2010. The strategy to raise living standards and well-being in an effective, optimal – yet sustainable – manner in rural areas also impacts upon the fisheries sector.

The Agro-Business Sustainable Development Programme of the Republic of Kazakhstan (2006–2010). The programme seeks to develop the sustainable production of local merchandise (fish being one example) in a manner that contributes to national production and income growth.

Fishery Sector Development Concept of the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2007–2015 (Government Decree No. 963, 6 October 2006). This decree identifies a number of goals and objectives related to the formation, protection, and rational use of national fish and aquaculture resources – with an emphasis on increased deployment of modern technologies and techniques for accelerated fisheries development. The intention of the programme is to systematize state regulation and control over water resources, facilitate the maintenance and development of fisheries facilities, improve the sector’s legislative base (particularly as regards aquaculture and regulation), and assist in developing information systems and analytic techniques to support fisheries management processes. Development is expected to occur in three stages: an introductory phase (2007–2009), an intermediate phase (2010–2012) and a final phase (2013–2015).

The concept shapes the main goals and objectives aimed at increasing the competitive ability of this industry through the conservation, reproduction and sustainable use of fish resources and the development of commercial fishery taking into account the latest methods and up-to-date technologies. Within this concept, the state programme of the development of commercial fishery from 2010 to 2020 is being developed in Kazakhstan at the time of writing this FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Circular. The implementation of this programme will be funded from national and local budgets, and private investments, and will count on the support from international fi nancial organizations and other institutions (Isbekov, 2009).

Republican Scheme of Acclimatising and Stocking Fish Reservoirs (2007: Government Decree No. 57, 25 January 2007). The scheme proposes the insertion of high value fish into various waterbodies and reservoirs of the nation.

Medium-Term Plan of Social and Economic Development for 2008–2010: Government Decree No. 753, 29 August 2007. This governmental decree devotes a special section to fisheries in which it pledges to: (i) increase fisheries competitiveness based on sustainable development of the sector through the protection, reproduction and rational use of natural reservoirs’ water bioresources; (ii) enhance conditions for commodity fish culture – in terms of fish reproduction, the organization of fish farming (including sturgeon farming) and developing the sector; and (iii) [further] improve the fishery management system specifically reforming legislation relating to the protection, reproduction and rational and effi cient use of fish resources.

Legal and regulatory framework

For the majority of time following independence, the 1993 Law on the Protection, Culture and Utilization of Fauna was used as the juridical mechanism to frame policy within the sector – despite said law solely devoting a series of clauses to fisheries. This was superseded by Law No. 593-II of 9 July 2004 on Law on Protection, Reproduction and Use of Fauna and the subsequent publication of a series of legal documents relating to protection of fish stocks, fishery regulation, rational use of fish stocks, acclimatizing, fisheries-ameliorative works, research, normative documents on fish culture, ichthyologic service, and strengthening of sturgeon protection in the Ural-Caspian basin. This law provides for the protection of rare and threatened species and their habitats and is also aimed at implementation of international obligations. In particular, it restricts international trade in species listed in the Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species (CITES) Annexes 1 and 2.

The impetus towards opening up the sector in recent years, in particular following the World Bank sectoral visit in 2003, led the Government of Kazakhstan to publish a series of decrees, most notably:

  • Rules for Managing Fish Industry (Government Decree No. 1456 of 31 December 2004). This allows the development of culture fisheries in the nation’s lakes and reservoirs, and permits the state to grant long-term (ten year) leases to fishing enterprises.
  • Rules for Conducting Tenders for Assigning Waterbodies (Areas) and Qualifying Requirements to Participants in Tenders (Government Decree No. 102 of 4 February 2005) sets down the criteria for determining “qualifying” enterprises.
  • Approving the Composition of Tender Commissions for Assigning Waterbodies (Areas) of International and National Importance (Government Decree No. 72 of 6 February 2006) deals with the mechanics of the tendering process.

Other important fishery sector legal framework documents that have been issued in recent years include:

  • The order of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan No. 785 of 27 December 2006 on “About Approval of the Concept of Ecological Monitoring of Reservoirs and Water Currents of Fishery Values”. On the same day the Ministry of Agriculture issued Order No. 780 on “About Approval of Methodical Recommendations about Evaluation of Expenses for Carrying Out Fishery Researches”; an order which provides insight in the value attached to fishery research in Kazakhstan.
  • The governmental decree of the Republic of Kazakhstan of 2 March 2007, No. 163 on “About the Programme Approving Maintenance of Sustainable Development of Balkhash-Alakolskogo Basin for 2007–2009.”

Other laws that are of high relevance for the fishery sector include the following:

  • Ecological Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan (09.01.2007, N212-III)
  • Water Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan (09.07.2003, N481-II)
  • The Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “Specially Protected Natural Areas” (07.07.2006, N175- III)

International and regional conventions and agreements

Kazakhstan is party to a number of international conventions and agreements that relate to fisheries resources, wetlands and the Caspian Sea environment. Implementation of these conventions and agreements is key to the sustainable development of the sector.

The Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea (Tehran Convention) was signed by the fi ve Caspian states in November 2003. The Convention aims at protecting the Caspian environment from all sources of pollution and to protect, preserve and restore the marine environment of the Caspian Sea.

Kazakhstan is a party to the Convention on Biological Diversity (approved by Government Decree No. 918 of 19 August 1994). During 1998–1999, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection of Kazakhstan prepared the national strategy and action plan on conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. Although attention is given to threatened stock of certain fish species, particularly sturgeon, the action plan lacks concrete actions and budgets dedicated to sturgeon biodiversity conservation. Kazakhstan accessed the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in 2008.

While the government drew up a list of rare and endangered animal species in 2004 (Government Decree No. 469 of 2 September 2004), it has to date failed to expand this list to take note of the 13 critically endangered/ endangered or vulnerable fish species noted in the 2008 Red Book of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is not a signatory (at the time of writing of this FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Circular) of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Agreement relating to the implementation of Part XI of the Convention, and of the Agreement for the implementation of the provisions of the Convention relating to the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks.

In May 2007, Kazakhstan became one of the contracting parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. In Kazakhstan, the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries is not being actively applied. However, Kazakhstan representatives attended the regional workshop “The 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries in the Central Asian Region: A Call to Action”, held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on 8–10 April 2008, and there is an expectation that aspects of the code will be incorporated into future national legislation.

Since 2008, the Ministry of Agriculture of Kazakhstan has been involved in the establishment of a regional fisheries and aquaculture commission for Central Asia. After a number of technical and intergovernmental meetings, the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus requested FAO in June 2009 (FAO, 2009b) to support the establishment of a Regional Fishery Body (RFB) under Article XIV of the FAO Constitution. Following this request, the FAO Council at its 137th Session, held in Rome in October 2009, approved the Agreement on the Central Asia and Caucasus Fisheries and Aquaculture Commission. As soon as three parties to the agreement have deposited their instrument of acceptance to FAO, this new RFB will take effect. The RFB shall carry out the functions and responsibilities in the inland waters and areas within the territorial boundaries of the Central Asian states, namely Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and the Caucuses, namely the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey and, with respect to inland fisheries, other waters within the transboundary water basins bordering the territories of the Central Asian states and the Caucuses.

The objectives of this RFB shall be to promote the development, conservation, rational management and best utilization of living aquatic resources, as well as the sustainable development of aquaculture in the area.

Fishery management

Fishery management plans for specific waterbodies, which many other countries commonly prepare and implement for their waterbodies, are not in place in Kazakhstan. Waterbodies are commonly leased to enterprises, and catch quotas are based on scientific research and annual review by the Fisheries Committee.

Licences and quotas

Quotas (and other fishing restrictions) are annually approved by the Government of Kazakhstan and distributed through a tender process. However, the allocation mechanism is not governed by cost price, as in the majority of tender/quota systems, but based upon the ranking of bids by the special state body – Interregional Basin Department of Fisheries. The World Bank (2004:31) suggests such a system should be reviewed as it is opaque and tends to yield suboptimal results (including the under-reporting of catch).

To participate in the tender process, potential bidders are required to prepare documents as required by the tender commission. The fishing vessels to be deployed must be registered with the Committee on Transport and Communications (all registered vessels are certificated, with details on ownership, vessel type and registration number). All bidders are expected to show that they have access to refrigeration equipment and fishers/brigades and that they are financially solvent. Successful bidders are expected to manage the fishery in a sustainable manner.

Within a year of the tender procedure being established, a total of 1933 waterbodies had been assigned to 960 users. By 12 July 2007, these users in turn had invested tenge 206.1 million (tenge 164.8 million went to technical and technological re-equipping, tenge 30.4 million to the reproduction of fish resources, and tenge 10.9 million to completing scientific studies).


The World Bank Report 2004 noted that the implementation of monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) activities in Kazakhstan was an area of “particular weakness.” In particular, the data collection system was poor and unreliable (catches, infractions and transgressions are all recorded by hand), there is a lack of standards/norms vis-à-vis fisheries enforcement (and no enforcement unit within the Fisheries Committee), 6 inspectors are “poorly trained, underequipped and have limited powers of arrest”, prosecution procedures are lengthy, and the penalties for high-level infractions are too low.

Thorpe and van Anrooy (2009) suggest that MCS techniques have improved since the publication of the World Bank Report. The number of poachers who were caught increased by around 20 per cent between 2005 and 2006 (8 449 to 10 203), and there is also an exponential growth in the volume of fines levied (up 300 per cent, from tenge 10.4 million to tenge 41.5 million). However, there are concerns that the size of the inspectorate is still too large (numbers cited range from 441 to just over 600) given the reported size (in landings terms) of the fishery, and thus a downsizing in personnel could conceivably free up more funds for enhanced training and improved salaries.

While the leasing out of waterbodies is likely to see part of the enforcement burden passing into private hands, co-management would be a more practical option in the case of managing larger waterbodies such as the Aral Sea. The introduction of chasseurs (stewards) on some fish reservoirs, as in Kyrgyzstan, is another possible option for enforcing minimum catch sizes, which will reduce the magnitude of illegal catches and prevent overfishing.

With respect to the above, it is noteworthy that the recent “Workshop on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing and Illegal Trade in Sturgeon Products”, held in Antalya, Turkey, in September 2009, which was co-organized by FAO, CITES and Interpol and included participants from Azerbaijan, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, recommended that a Regional Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (RPOA) be developed for the Caspian region. This RPOA should however be preceded by the development of a National Plan of Action (NPOA-IIU) in each of the Caspian littoral states.

The workshop also discussed the four Kazakh agencies that are involved in the prevention and combating of IUU fishing and trade of sturgeon. These agencies are:

  • Fisheries Committee of the Ministry of Agriculture
  • Ministry of Internal Affairs
  • Customs Control Service of the Ministry of Finance
  • Frontier Service of the Committee of National Safety

In addition, the Kazakh experts at the workshop specifically referred to Ministerial Decree No. 493 of 29 April 2004 of the Government of Kazakhstan entitled “Regulations on the Sales of Sturgeon Caviar Produced in Kazakhstan,” which aims to harmonize trade of sturgeon caviar and prevent its illegal marketing within the territory. This decree was followed by a number of related regulations to strengthen enforcement measures. It is noteworthy to mention that in September 2009 a draft bill was under consideration by Kazakhstan’s Senate, which would, if endorsed, result in a government monopoly on purchase, caviar production and wholesale trade in sturgeon within the territory of Kazakhstan.

October 2010