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By John Helmer, Moscow

Negotiations are under way between Pacific Andes of Hong Kong, and its Singapore subsidiary China Fishery Group, with Russian Sea, the leading Russian fishing fleet operator, to resolve longstanding conflict between Chinese and Russians over access to waters in Russia’s exclusive economic zone, and to fish catch quotas. Under Russian law, the fisheries are strategic sectors and foreign investment in the industry is allowed only with the approval of the government’s Control Commission for Foreign Investment.

Since 2001, China Fishery has been catching pollock in the Sea of Okhotsk, using quotas allocated by Moscow to Russian fishing companies into which the Chinese have bought control shareholdings. The subterfuge has now been declared illegal, and the shareholding deals annulled, according to a decision reached last month by the Federal Antimonopoly Service. Similar action is expected shortly against Japanese and South Korean shareholders in Russian trawler fleets.

Instead, Pacific Andes and China Fishery are negotiating a government-endorsed joint venture with Russian Sea. The latter was taken over in 2011 by Russian oil trader, Gennady Timchenko. He is also negotiating for Kremlin backing to take over the state-owned Arkhangelsk Trawling fleet (ATF), the largest fishing fleet operator in northwestern Russian waters.

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