Boat show session highlights the regulatory challenges facing development of leisure boating in Russia

Among a number of business sessions taking place at the Moscow Boat show earlier this month was an informative presentation on the key legal and regulatory challenges hindering development of leisure boating in Russia.

Presented by international maritime attorney, yacht captain and surveyor, Ilya Bushtukhin, the session outlined the following issues:

  • · Absence of a legal definition of a leisure boat
  • · The need for a unified system of classification for boats
  • · The need for a unified system for registering yachts
  • · The need for training and certification standards for yacht skippers and crew
  • · The need for regulation concerning commercial operation of yachts
  • · The need to reduce aggregate customs tariffs for yachts imported into Russia and other countries in the Customs Union
  • · Introduction of temporary permits for foreign-flagged vessels to sail in territorial waters to simplify current requirements (the Transit Log)
  • · Adaption of Rules of Navigation on inland waterways for foreign-flagged vessels

Although a seemingly daunting list, such regulatory concerns have confronted a number of other countries in the past. In an ideal scenario, industry members of Russia’s boating market will join together in a trade federation which will work with local and state authorities to resolve these issues in a way which fosters continued development of the business domestically.

The largest segment of Russia’s boating market is still associated with small boats for leisure fishing and cruising which with commercial marine requirements is believed to support the sale of close to 100,000 outboard engines a year with a high proportion manufactured in China. However recent years have seen the growth of larger imported motor and sail boats coming into the country – quite apart from the large number of Russians who have the means and ability to buy and keep their boats abroad.

Royal Yacht Club, Moscow

Royal Yacht Club, Moscow

Source: Azimut | Benetti

Enterprise is the other unrelenting force which will continue to propel Russia’s internal boating market forward. In 2018, the Russian gas conglomerate Gazprom began building a major $60 million yacht club in St. Petersburg combined with a 200-boat marina to be completed by 2020. Another project planned for Kronstad Island includes a yacht club and marina for 100 boats, while other pending projects in St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast would add another 500 berths. Local government agencies in the Vladivostok region to the east of the country are also said to be supporting several state-of-the-art marina projects.

Overall, the Russian boating market is likely to go through continued ups and downs, with geopolitical and economic factors also playing a large role.