English translation from the official periodical of RAIPON “Мир коренных народов - живая арктика” (Indigenous Peoples’ World - Living Arctic) No. 17, 2005

The federal fishery law to take RAIPON proposals into account

D. Berezhkov, Vice-President for Fishing Issues, RAIPON

The problem of access to fish resources is one of the most acute for the indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East of the Russian Federation . All the indigenous peoples of the North are, to varying extents, engaged in fishery, but for the indigenous peoples of the Far East , fishing is the basic traditional livelihood and the major source of subsistence.

This explains why the Coordinating Council of RAIPON addressed this issue on the initiative of the Far Eastern associations. At the Council meeting, the Vice-Governor of the Kamchatka Region, Alexander Mikhailov, and I persistently brought up the fishery related problems of Northern indigenous peoples. These problems urgently need to be resolved in Kamchatka . We spoke of the need to allocate economic quotas for indigenous fishers and the allocation of productive fishery areas, among other things. A resolution of the Coordinating Council was carried on this issue, which was forwarded to the regional authorities of the Russian Federation , to the Plenipotentiaries of the President in the okrugs, and respective ministries and agencies, which subsequently was very helpful to us in introducing RAIPON’s proposals to the Federal Bill “On Fishery”.

RAIPON’s President Sergey Kharyuchi proposed in Sakhalin that I should continue related work at a federal level at RAIPON as Vice-President for Fishery.

The most important event in this respect was, to my mind, the work in October 2004 in Moscow . At that time, a Special Working Group at the State Duma of the Russian Federation was finishing work on the Federal Bill “On Fishery and Preservation of Aquatic Biological Resources”. We managed to meet the chairperson of the commission, Natalya Komarova, Chair of the State Duma Committee for Natural Resources. We also had negotiations in the Federation Council, Presidential Administration, and Ministry of Agriculture. Our problems were understood everywhere. Thus, it became clear that it is only at the regional level that our quotas and fishing grounds are a matter of fierce resistance on the part of the administration. Federal officials, by contrast, are aware that without traditional subsistence our peoples would inevitably become extinct.

The great assistance of Sergey Kharyuchi, Pavel Sulyandziga, Olga Murashko and the experts has made it possible for us to prepare our proposals regarding the Bill, which were handed over to the members of the Special Working Group. Our proposals were accepted to become part of the final versions of the law adopted by the State Duma, the Federation Council, and signed by the President of the Russian Federation . Our proposals concerned allocation, of quotas and fishing grounds for the representatives of indigenous peoples and their communities to maintain their traditional modes of livelihood.

Thus, after ten long years, Russia received the long-awaited fishery law, and the indigenous peoples’ right to fishing supported by federal law. Nowadays long and hard work is required on regulations, proposals for the Government enactment, and contributions to the preparation of new fishery bills. I am confident that we shall be able to continue that work relying on the experience available. In addition, in the course of the last trip in December last year in Moscow , we conducted negotiations with the management of the Federal Fishery Agency. An oral agreement was made regarding a document on collaboration between RAIPON and the Federal Agency for Fishery. This will provide a legislative framework for our proposals on behalf of indigenous peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East of the Russian Federation .