Abkhaz fish plants continue hiring Turkish fishing vessels for anchovy catch, Abkhaz news agency Apsnipress reported on January 16, quoting head of the breakaway region’s state committee on ecology Saveliy Chitanava.
In mid-December, amid Russia-Turkey tensions following downing of a Russian fighter jet by Turkey, Russia’s federal fishing agency, Rosrybolovstvo, said that the Russian fishing vessels would launch fishery in the Abkhaz waters and would possibly also “replace” Turkish fishing vessels.
Chairman of the state committee on ecology and environment protection Saveliy Chitanava said that although initially it was intended to replace Turkish vessels with the Russian ones this year, after the negotiations the plan was dropped because fleet the Russian side can provide is capable of catching only 500-600 tons of anchovy per day while the capacity of fish processing facilities in Abkhazia is about 3,000 tons per day.
“Saying no to Turkish fishing vessels would have amounted to ruining fishery sector of Abkhazia… which contributed about 200 million rubles to the Abkhaz budget last year,” Chitanava told Apsnipress and added that Russian fishing vessels will also be involved in anchovy catch along the Abkhaz Black Sea coast.
On January 11 breakaway region’s PM Artur Mikvabia ordered ministries to compile before January 20 list of restrictions to be introduce in economic and trade ties with Turkey as part of Sokhumi’s move to join Russia’s sanctions against Ankara. Planned restrictive measures range from “strengthening control” over Turkish nonprofit entities operating in Abkhazia to banning import of some products from Turkey. Sokhumi has already banned hiring of Turkish companies or other entities “controlled” by Turkish citizens for implementing infrastructure projects carried out in Abkhazia with Russian aid funds.
Economic activities in Abkhazia without authorization from the Georgian authorities represent violation of Georgia’s legislation, including of the law on occupied territories. At least four Turkish vessels were detained by the Georgian coast guard in 2013 for unauthorized entry to breakaway Abkhazia; but no such cases of detention of Turkish vessels have been reported since then.