Fisheries Agency Will Open Seafood Store Chain

The Federal Fisheries Agency said Friday that it would open a chain of seafood stores throughout the country to cut out middlemen and that it was considering consolidating state assets in the sector into a giant holding.

The first Okean, a seafood chain popular in Soviet times, will open in Russia by the end of spring, said Andrei Krainy, the agency's head.

"[Okean] will be the place where producers and consumers can meet without middlemen. We are expecting that fish will be sold here around 30 to 50 percent cheaper than in other stores," Krainy said, RIA-Novosti reported.

The approach would be similar to an Agriculture Ministry plan, announced last summer, to unite government and private grain assets from 28 companies to create a giant, state-controlled grain corporation.

Stores are planned in Astrakhan, Murmansk and Arkhangelsk, Krainy said.

The agency is planning on a making a decision in March on whether to create a state-owned fishing giant. Rosrybflot would be built on the basis of Arkhangelsk Trawling Fleet, Krainy said, Interfax reported.

There are also plans to build 600 new boats, Interfax reported.