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Fisheries And Aquaculture In Kazakhstan: Sectoral Diagnosis


The seventh in a number of articles looking at fisheries and aquaculture in Kazakhstan gives a sectoral diagnosis of fish and fish products. Written by Timirkhanov, S., Chaikin, B., Makhambetova, Z., Thorpe, A. and van Anrooy, R. from the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Circular.

In 2007, two meetings were held with representatives of the fisheries sector in the cities of Almaty (on 8 June 2007 at Hotel “Zhetysu”) and Aralsk (on 15 June 2007 at the NGO Aral Tenizi offi ce) so as to understand the current situation in the fisheries and aquaculture sector, and how policy might be formulated to ensure it contributes fully to the economic and social development of Kazakhstan.

Surveys taken at these meetings identified the principal development priorities for the sector as:

  • Improving fisheries legislation and increasing administrative support to the sector (83 percent approval).
  • Strengthening human resources – improving the technical and professional levels of the staff employed within the sector (77 percent approval).
  • Strengthening the financial and material (equipment, etc.) support available to the sector (75 percent approval).
  • Exploiting the natural resource potential of the sector (70 percent approval).

Various methods can be used to diagnose the current situation. One of the most commonly used methods to analyse a situation, create understanding and assist future decision-making processes in a simple manner is the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis (SWOT) (Karimov et al, 2009).

This method has the advantage that it addresses both internal and external factors that support or constrain development. The analysis of the internal and external sectoral environment provides useful information for the preparation of strategic plans and programmes for fisheries sector development. The meetings evaluated the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities offered to and threats faced by the sector, reasoning that such an analysis could provide useful entry points for the refi nement of current – and the development of future – sectoral development strategies.

  1. Fisheries legislation and administrative support
    • The long-term leasing (10 years) of fishery sites to private sector fishers (resource users)
    • The decision to ban monofi lament nets from the national fishery
    • The approval of a long-term strategy (2007–2015) for the development of the country’s fisheries
    • The Fisheries Committee, as an authorized body, has already developed a structure for the management of the national fisheries

  2. Human resources
    • Current personnel have wide experience regarding the functioning of state structures
    • The existence of fishery education/training programmes within universities and colleges
    • Fish-production and fish-capture specialists are employed at the enterprise level
    • A large number of professional fishers
    • The activities of the fisher organization Aral Tenizi in the Kyzylorda area

  3. Financial and material support
    • The willingness of the Investment Fund of Kazakhstan to lend to fisheries projects
    • Comparatively low costs for fish production (in comparison with the world)
    • The level of business interest in developing the national fisheries
    • The presence of specialized fish-processing enterprises (with a strong material and technical basis, and with access to bank credit)
    • Favourable conditions for the production of all kinds of manufactured goods related to fisheries and aquaculture development (gear, boat construction, etc.)
    • The availability of resources to permit the manufacture of domestic fish feed compounds

  4. Natural resource potential
    • Presence of numerous small and large reservoirs which are ideal for the purposes of fish culture, especially in Semirechie
    • Multiple fish species (rare, high value and trash)
    • The natural and climatic conditions of Kazakhstan – which favour the development of various forms of aquaculture
  1. Fisheries legislation and administrative support
    • Transfer of fishing rights from public to private sector via the quota process did not occur through a process of competitive (price-based) selection
    • Transition from monofilament nets to nylon gillnets is costly, with the latter six times the price of the former
    • Continued use of poor quality Chinese nets in the Kazakh fishery
    • A failure to effectively control net size
    • There is no coordinated fishery management at the ministerial level – with capture, processing and trade all the concern of different ministries
    • There is no law on fishery management
    • There are problems with the organization of the country’s recreational fishery
    • There are currently no measures to encourage fish culture by the private sector
    • The level of unreported fish catches being illegally exported from Kazakhstan

  2. Human resources
    • There is a lack of qualified staff with particular specialisms, such as ichthyologists, hydrobiologists, fish breeders and ichthyoparasitologists, among others
    • The limited appeal of fishing as an occupation of first choice among the youth
    • The dearth of fishery and fish-processing technology specialists

  3. Financial and material support
    • There are no specific state privileges/benefits available to fishers (capture or culture)
    • An absence of state support to fisheries enterprises (tax exemptions, credit access, subsidies and privileges)
    • Insufficient state investment in the sector
    • The high price of fish culture material and feedstuffs
    • Infrastructure problems (inadequate number and type of vessels, too few receiving stations and insufficient transportation on large reservoirs, lack of spare parts for vessel/gear repair, few access roads to the sea, low standards of the temporary living facilities for fishers, absence of life jackets, among others)
    • The lack of fish-processing equipment

  4. Natural resource potential
    • Absence of economic research on the various technologies employed in capture fisheries and aquaculture
    • Poor scientific and methodological assistance available to those who wish to start an aquaculture business (local scientific research institutes still do not produce such materials)
    • Absence of modern methods to study the fish stocks in reservoirs
    • Lack of a good experimental base for development of sturgeon breeding
    • Fish migration from the small Aral Sea to the big Aral Sea
  1. Fisheries legislation and administrative support
    • Development of a Fishery law that resolves most of the weaknesses identified in the current regulatory regime
    • Introduction of current and long-term plans for the development of the fisheries sector
    • Imposition of (an additional) tax on the export of raw fish so as to offer protection to local processors
    • Unification of fisheries capture, processing and trade functions within one ministry
    • Relocate fisheries management activities for the Aral-Syrdarya basin to Aralsk city (at the moment fishers must go 500 km to Kyzylorda city to get an official permit)

  2. Human resources
    • Increase salaries paid to fishery specialists (fisheries science, fisheries protection) – to avoid staff departures
    • Organize fishers into one national professional fishers’ association • It is necessary to solve arising problems together (in participation and consultative manners) in so- called co-management approaches

  3. Financial and material support
    • There is a need to provide a package of state support to the fisheries sector (privileged access to inputs, subsidies, incentives to businessmen prepared to invest money in fish-processing plant construction, equipment and fleet renovation, funding of aquaculture development, access to improved fish- catching techniques, and transport to ensure the delivery of quality raw fish from distant sites)
    • State financing for the development of aquaculture activities
    • The state should assist in the creation of a non-governmental fishers’ foundation to support the independent activity of fishers and fish processors

  4. Natural resource potential
    • To develop regional programmes on fishery development
    • To improve dialogue between participants in the fisheries sector via the establishment and publishing of an applied scientific magazine
    • Development of Fisheries Science as a distinct discipline within the educational system
    • Support the reproduction of fish stocks (for example, by introducing a seasonal ban on fishing – especially during the spawning period)
    • Take into consideration the value of fish resources when authorizing dam/reservoir construction (and provide fish passes so as to not inhibit the spawning or migratory activities of certain species)
  1. Fisheries legislation and administrative support
    • The Government of Kazakhstan and/or the Fisheries Committee might refuse to develop a programme on state support for the sector (despite the fishery concept decree being approved – and the fact that current fishery programmes are already being developed)
    • The Government of Kazakhstan chooses to ignore the problems faced by the fisheries sector
    • Fishery specialists are unable to lobby effectively to generate support for their interests
    • Government bureaucracy, insufficient extension services and inadequate consultations with fishers and fish processors before policies are introduced
    • The State may not support the introduction of a system of privileges for fishers (despite doing so for producers of agricultural products)

  2. Human resources
    • Continued low salaries paid to fish protection specialists and scientific employees causes the outflow of well-qualified staff
    • Low social guarantees for state employees in the fisheries sector
    • Key posts within the sector are not filled (as they become available) by fishery sector experts
    • There is a lack of specialists able to write funding proposals so as to attract funds into the sector

  3. Financial and material support
    • Domestic fish prices are too low to encourage financial investment in the sector
    • The Fisheries Committee fails to persuade the Ministry of Finance to release funds which can be used to develop and support private sector investment in fishing and fish culture
    • Delays in the provision of financing, fishing vessels and gear and other equipment purchases

  4. Natural resource potential
    • Overfishing caused by current unreliable information on catches
    • Pollution of lakes by industrial waste and effluents
October 2010