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Russian MP proposes abolishing fishing grounds

January 13, 2014, 22:31 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, January 13, /ITAR-TASS/. MP Leonid Ogul of the All-Russia People’s Front (ARPF) has suggested abolishing the concept of fishing grounds and submitted the relevant amendment to the draft Law “On Amateur Fishing” that was passed in the first reading late last year.

“The main point is that the concept of fishing grounds for amateur and sport fishing will be eliminated and no new fishing grounds will be created,” Ogul, who is a member of the ruling United Russia party’s faction in the State Duma, lower house of parliament, said on Monday, January 13.

At the same time, he said that “one will have to pay if he wants to go fishing in private ponds or water-filled sand pits.”

Ogul said the amendment had been worked out after consultations with interested ministries and agencies as well as with fishermen’s associations.

“The main meaning of the amendment proposed by deputies from the All-Russia People’s Front and anglers is that there will no longer be fishing grounds but there will be ‘tourism sites with free access for citizens and fish-breeding sites’,” Ogul said earlier.

The first version of the draft law was submitted to the Duma in December 2012 and angered fishermen across the country. APRF officials also noted numerous flaws in the document.

Proposed restrictions on free fishing were the subject matter of fierce debates across the country for several months.

The Federal Fisheries Agency State Duma proposed that fishing be allowed on a paid basis and that anglers should obtain special fishing tickets.

Some mass media described this as a sweeping transition to paid fishing especially after the Agency’s Head Andrei Krainy said that this would generate an additional budget income “2.5-3 times bigger than commercial fishing.”

In early 2011, a tide of protests against the Fisheries Agency’s proposal to sell tickets for fishing in waters leased to private entrepreneurs swept the country. Anglers rallied in 15 big cities. More than 1,500 of them and their supporters gathered in the centre of Moscow. Over 3,000 people took to streets in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan. Rallies in Petrozavodsk and Kemerovo were prohibited by local authorities.

In April 2013, the Duma Committee on Natural Resources and Ecology asked the government to rework the draft law. A working group was set up, consisting of MPs, officials from the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, and activists from public organisations. They reworked the document and in November 2013 the Duma Committee on Natural Resources and Ecology recommended that the lower house pass it in the first reading.

The Duma adopted the draft law in the first reading on December 10, 2013. It “formalises the right of every citizen to engage in recreational fishing freely and gratuitously on public bodies of water.

The government’s draft Law “On Amateur Fishing” allows free fishing practically in all public bodies of water with the exception of those that have been designated for paid amateur fishing (recreational fishing farms), the area of which should not exceed 10 percent of all bodies of water in a particular region.

President Vladimir Putin urged Fisheries chief Andrei Krainy to work out such a version of the fishing law that would not infringe upon the rights of entrepreneurs who have invested in the creation of fishing facilities.

“It is necessary to find such solutions that would not infringe upon the interests of those who have already joined in this work and have invested in development,” Putin cautioned.

According to Krainy, the draft law envisions the creation of recreational fishing farms but limits their size to 150 hectares.

The document also bans the sale of nets. “Nets can be bought only on the basis of personal permits to be issued by the Fisheries Agency,” Krainy said.

The draft law also sets daily catch limits, which will be determined on a case by case basis.

A fee will have to be paid for fishing at recreational fishing farms or under special licenses, for procuring valuable spices of aquatic bioresources, and for using nets. Bodies of water for amateur fishing have to make up no less than 90 percent of all bodies of water in a region.

Putin expressed hope that the draft law would reflect the role and importance of public associations of anglers, the licensing of and a ban on the sale of fishing nets, fishing grounds, etc.

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