Fishery hopes in Arctic Russia after gas project flame out

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The northern port of Murmansk in Kol’skiy (Kola) peninsula on the Barents Sea. Eight fisheries companies are ready to invest in the Murmansk Special Economic Port Zone, regional authorities say.(Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)
The northern port of Murmansk in Kol’skiy (Kola) peninsula on the Barents Sea. Eight fisheries companies are ready to invest in the Murmansk Special Economic Port Zone, regional authorities say.(Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)
The Murmansk Economic Zone was presented as a miracle cure for regional development and as key facility for the Shtokman project.

Today, five years on, regional authorities put their faith in the fish industry.

The Murmansk Economic Port Zone was formally established in fall 2010 in the midst of a great euphoria on the Shtokman project, the gigantic gas field located in the nearby Barents Sea. The economic zone was to facilitate the establishment of new companies, attract investments and prepare the ground for an anticipated major petroluem boom. At least 1500 new jobs will be created in the zone, then governor Dmitry Dmitrienko said.

Project’s demise

Then everything changed, and the Shtokman field was no longer considered a viable project. With that followed the demise of the economic zone. Before it had attracted a single investor, the zone appeared to be history

Now, however, Murmansk again eyes the possible revival of the project. During a visit to the area this week, Murnansk Governor Marina Kovtun said that eight contracts on zone establishments have been signed and that companies are ready to invest up to 800 million rubles in the new businesses, newspaper Murmansky Vestnik reports. The companies, all of them involved in fisheries and fish processing, will give new life to the port zone, Kovtun argued.

Uncertain future

The area in question is located on the western shore of the Kola Bay, and partly overlaps with the areas included in one of the other top-priority projects of the regional administration, the Murmansk Transport Hub.

As previously reported, the future of the Murmansk Transport Hub appears highly uncertain after several major investors have pulled out.

Murmansk is clearly in need of additional capacity on fish processing. However, questions about the credibility of the special port zone are surely to be raised by investors, like with so many other of the regional high-prestige projects.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Is a fishing boom in the Arctic a sure thing?, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: EU drops seal-protection complaint against Finland, Yle News

Norway: Climate change will lead to ecosystem clash, Barents Observer

Sweden:  Record numbers for Swedish wild salmon, Radio Sweden

Russia:  Oryong 501 sinking highlights Arctic fishing, shipping issues, Blog by Mia Bennett

United States: Ice retreat threatening Bering Sea pollock, Alaska Public Radio Network

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Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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