Ice Fishing in Sibera

1999 > Russia

Rain, snow, or sleet, they fish 24/7 here!

21 January 1999, The Moscow Times

Ice-Anglers Be Warned: Minivans Do Not Float

By Russell Working

a northern suburb of Vladivostok, next to a forlorn little amusement park
where carnival music blares over the empty skating rink even on the bitterest
of days, the Sanatornaya Rescue Station overlooks the frozen Sea of Japan.
Beside the station is a battered hydrofoil that periodically roars off across
the sea to rescue fishermen who have gone through the ice.

You might think that there would be little such work at this time of the
year for the crew of Vladimir Kiselyov, a craggy station chief with Brezhnevian
eyebrows and an oversized fur hat. The weather has been below zero for months,
and the ice is up to 50 centimeters thick. But Kiselyov is a bitter man.
He is still pulling fishermen from the water because some louts insist on
driving to their favorite fishing spots.

Since the start of the year, 12 cars have gone through, and one driver drowned.
In fact, the sea floor is littered with the hulks of old Toyotas and Hondas
and Nissans, both cars and minivans. Although the rescue station can earn
a little extra money raising sunken cars for hapless fishermen, Kiselyov
is enraged that he has to do so in the first place.

are amazed at the problem ourselves,” Kiselyov puzzles. “Do these people
have any brains at all? Every time [we rescue someone], I ask the drivers
why they do that. This guy whose car we lifted yesterday gave me the most
stupid answer possible. He said he saw fishermen on the ice, and he wanted
to ask them how the fishing was going. So, he drove toward them. But they
were sitting on thinner ice, so his car sank.” ” Luckily,” Kiselyov adds
with what I imagine to be the faintest twinge of regret, “he managed to jump

I have long been fascinated by the ice fishermen I watch from my apartment
window. I feel a comradely sense of recognition (fellow fanatics!) when I
get up at 5:30 am. to scratch out a few lines of fiction, and see that the
ice fishermen are already out there, their headlights exploring the ice.

But the rescuers are unmoved by such romanticism. Every fall, they rescue
dolts who venture out on the half-frozen sea. In the winter, they might pull
out a truck after a rear wheel crunches through during a shortcut across
the bay. And every spring, a pod or two of ice fishermen drift off on an
ice floe. Station rescuer Konstantin Mikhailyuk says: “It is useless to try
to convince them that it is dangerous. I wish I could take a stick and drive
them off of the ice. They are like cockroaches that have found a piece of

“If, say, an unpaid worker needs food for his family, I’m glad the sea can
sustain him. But the Sanatornaya rescuers might bellow in frustration, Can’t
you leave the minivan on solid ground?


Where is the Russian Fishing Fleet?

By Boris Reznik – Khabarovsk correspondent of the newspaper “Izvestia”

After Boris Reznik’s report “Mafia and the Sea” the Russian Prime Minister
Sergei Kyryenko established an emergency commission with participation of
over 100 officers of law-enforcement agencies. The investigators were shocked
by the amount of corruption and robberies. They found that true catch of
marine products in the Russian Far Eastern Economic Zone is about 4.00 mln
tons per year, but the legal export of marine products from Russian Far East
is only about 1.0 mln. Tons. About 3.0 mln tons are exported illegally.

The Commission offered to Russian government a number of proposals and
recommendations on how to stop such robberies, but not any one was implemented
until today and Mafia enjoys the freedom.

The “Valdivostkskaya Baza Tralovogo y Refyzheratornogo Flota” was a major
Russian Far Eastern fishing industrial state enterprise equipped with modern
fishing vessels. During privatization state provided the new Joint Stock
Company with a perfect 70 new vessels. Recently Procurator Office tried to
investigate how JSC uses this vessels and the investigators’ report states
the following: “.. we could not find out where the vessels are now “. The
JSC was simply robbed out during 1997, when 4,5 billion Rbls of assets were
just transferred to the private companies founded by its director Nikitenko
and Chief Accountant Musyna.

For example, Nikitenko presented to JSC “Super” 12 new Spanish built trawlers.
Another 50 trawlers were actually sold cheap to the company “Falkland Investing
LTD” (Liberia). Nikitenko sold to his son at the cost of crap metal the huge
marine products processing plant vessel “Spassk”. All this was done openly
at the sight of 50 Prymorsky Krai controlling and law-enforcement agencies.
After the “transactions” Nikitenko and Musyna transferred all funds to the
foreign banks. Boris Reznik is sure that Nikitenko and Musyna finally will
be found “innocent” by the investigation.

The Far Eastern Transportation Procurator Valery Balyaba reports that at
the beginning of 1998 the region had 1135 ship owner companies with 2628
fishing vessels. Today 530 vessels have disappeared to nowhere. In
“MagadanRybProm” (Magadan) the Procurator found a real miracle.

Last summer director of this company Bazhenov has transferred two big fish
processing vessels to “Vlaco LTD”. But Vlasco”s authorized capital fund was
formed by investment of only an old sofa and a computer printer. That was
the price of two new sea vessels.

The leaders of biggest in Sakhalin fishing JSC company “Korsakovskaya Baza
Okeanicheskogo Rybolovstva” (25% of federal state shares) rented all company’s
vessels to the private companies, who even have no fishing license. According
to the lease agreement those private companies receive all revenue from joint
activities, but the Lessor stands only losses and pays off the operation
and maintenance costs.

Two entrepreneurs Goloborodov and Vorozhbin received and than have sent to
Chinese shipyards for repair the trawler “Mys Yudin”. At first they made
USD 100,000 of down payment and than gave to Chinese side 625 tons of herrings.
Later on the entrepreneurs added up two more new trawlers as the payment
for repair works and at the end transferred to Chinese side the same just
repaired vessel “Mys Yudin”. The Russian Far Eastern fishing fleet may expire
pretty soon at such tempo of the sheer and cynical robberies.