Companies, like people, born and live according to their own laws. In the beginning of 90’s many small companies appeared from the remains of government property of the former Soviet Union. Nobody expected that most of them would disappear soon. Nevertheless, we can observe some justice: self-made people and companies proved their vitality.
Mag-Sea International Co., Ltd. and Tikhrybcom Co., Ltd. are bright examples of that.
It wasn’t an occasional acquaintance. In 1993 Mikhail Kotov, a young director of joint Russian-American enterprise Severovostok zoloto — Alaska, was introduced to the top-managers of one of the largest fishing company Arctic Alaska Fishery Corporation. Americans were interested in crab-catching in the north area of the Sea of Okhotsk. However, negotiations and discussions were about resources which had not been researched for several years; for this reason, seamen and fishmen couldn’t use them adequately. Changes affected the largest fishing company in our region Magadanrybprom. The scientists from Magadan office of TINRO-center (Pacific and Oceanological Research Fisheries Center) didn’t have an opportunity to enlarge number of research works. As a result, representatives of TINRO-center, American company and the group of enthusiasts with Mikhail Kotov at the head discussed this problem. As soon as scientists’ requirements on searching the areas of biological resources and providing the vessels with modern scientific equipment were taken into consideration, the idea became a reality. It led to the foundation of Russian-American joint venture Magadan-Seattle, currently it is called Mag-Sea International Co., Ltd. The name came from the simple abbreviation of two cities – Magadan and Seattle. Their symbols – famous TV tower of Seattle and Magadan deer are still the logo of the company. The flag of the company Tikhrybcom Co., Ltd., registered in 1995, depicts Pacific herring. But these symbols appeared later.
In the beginning, no one of the first Russian shareholders knew anything about fishing industry. It took several months to study this field with managers of TINRO-center and get specialists’ consultations on this issue. Vasiliy Leonidovich Kostyrev, director of Magadan TINRO-branch gave a huge support to newcomers in fishing industry, but unfortunately, he has already passed away. Alexander Shalin and German Malinovsky, shareholders of the new company have already passed away too. Other members still work as deputy directors and executive managers. Their names are well known in Magadan region: Alexander Belichenko, Alexander Dovgan and others. At present, they are proud of the first shareholders’ team who could keep not only the team itself but maintain a cohesive atmosphere among the staff as well.
American investors offered the company a new type of vessels – Enterprise series on terms of bare boat charter for working in the test fishing mode and catching the small trading quotas. Hereafter, the first vessel “Gletchen Enterprise” didn’t take part in fishery, but the two other vessels “Atka Enterprise’ and “Western Enterprise” had been operating for several fishing seasons and then passed into the ownership of Magadan companies.
The beginning of joint cooperation was rather efficient. Young russian managers had to accept and understand new rules of the fishing business. Managers of Arctic Alaska Fishery Corporation and its president Terry Baker did their best to support Russian enterprises and provide them with all the necessary assistance. All fleet and fishing industry issues were thoroughly discussed and considered.
The American company was bought by the famous company Tyson Incorporated, more specifically its sub-company Tyson Seafood. Cooperation with this company was also rather efficient. When the company decided to eliminate non-core assets and sell the fleet of the company All Alaska, cooperation became complicated. That time the group of managers of the Magadan fishing companies understood the meaning of “an unequal partnership”. However, they continued to fulfill their duties under the contract of bare boat charter. In 2000 both vessels passed into the ownership of companies Mag-Sea International Co., Ltd. and Tikhrybcom Co., Ltd. – self-dependent companies with entirely Russian ownership.
Acquired experience let the group of Magadan companies to cooperate with American companies and enterprises of the Asian-Pacific Region. Nipporos Corporation is a constant partner of Magadan companies in Japan, Korea Trading & Industries Company in South Korea.
The early years of companies’ existence, crab-catching was a very profitable business. Catches of two vessels (which were equipped with new type of crab pots) satisfied scientists’ expectations. During several years in the north area of the Sea of Okhotsk new catching zones and areas were discovered. Moreover, concentration of the main species for catching – Opilio Snow crab – was incredibly high. As a result, it allowed to increase catch quotas. Incomings of companies increased payments for the contract of the bare boat charter. Young owners of fishing company received a chance and the team of Mikhail Kotov decided to invest all available funds into the fish production’s development.
It was necessary to insure companies from market fluctuations. A one-field business, even a highly profitable one, could become unprofitable in any moment. In addition, companies catching only crab, operated seasonally. In the first months – from January to April – vessels had to be kept maintained.
First attempt to extend companies` scope was taken in 1995, when the company purchased the vessel “Alexander Shalin”. In the next two years they purchased the transport vessels “Lyma” and “Priozerny”. In 1997 the group of companies purchased a big freezing trawler “Siglan”, in 1999 they purchased the vessel “Viliga”. These vessels were modernized in compliance with catching purposes. The vessel “Alexander Shalin” got a possibility to catch whelk almost all the year round, the vessel “Viliga” was modernized as a crabber. Daily output of the vessel “Siglan” was raised and it processed about 120 tons of Alaska Pollack and herring per day. Trying to do their best to keep the vessels working all the year round, two trawlers were equipped with modern long-lines. Until that time, nobody had used such lines. As a result, in the next 3 years the operation of this vessel provided steady catches of Halibut and Cod-fish. But due to the fact, that all the catch was eaten by killer whales often, this catching type was stopped for a while. But company’s managers decided not to give up the idea of long-line fishing. They were looking for a new method of Halibut catching. Bottom nets were useless. Expensive ultrasonic equipment for deterrence of whales, used by other fishing vessels, also had no result. Finally, a method of catching with fishing pots was found. In the autumn of 2006, a new vessel “Talan” used the fishing pots. It was an efficient attempt and it was decided to continue using this method.
In recent years a decline on fishing industry has been observed in the Sea of Okhotsk. It was not only a problem for Magadan fishing companies. Indifference of the government to the fishing industry, auctions and payments for aquatic resources catching made company business operation complicated. Despite this, Mag-Sea International Co., Ltd. and Tikhrybcom Co., Ltd. did not give up and still stay their course. In this case companies shall be equipped with modernized vessels to provide efficient fish catching. For this purpose, in 2006 the company Tikhrybcom Co., Ltd. purchased the freezing filleting trawler “Morskoy Volk”. Later companies purchased middle-class fishing refrigerating trawler “Sea Hunter” and “Harbiz”. As the number of catching vessels was increasing, the more transport vessels were required. The transport vessel “Priozerny” could not operate in this case. Only the large capacity transport vessel was able to operate this way. For this purpose, in 2001 companies purchased the transport vessel “Lyra”, in 2003 – transport vessel “Bukhta Nagaeva”. These carriers became the largest ones in the fleet of two companies. Nowadays the fleet has enough vessels to support cargo transportation from vessels of the own and others companies.