WWF-Russia demands to close the commercial fishing of autumn and summer chum salmon in the Amur River basin for at least four years to restore reproduction.
A survey of spawning grounds confirmed the total absence of fish on five tributaries of the Amur: on the Amguni, Anyuya, Tunguska, Gorin and Gur – zero specimens per 100 square meters, while the norm for autumn chum salmon is about 50 fish.
Back in 2017, residents and fishermen of the Nanai District of the Khabarovsk Territory were the first to raise the alarm about emptying spawning grounds. Since 2018, volunteers of the regional Association of Indigenous Minorities of the North, with the support of WWF Russia, have been monitoring the filling of spawning grounds with autumn chum salmon. Four years have passed – the period of the chum salmon life cycle, when the juveniles rolled into the sea, grew up and returned – and the fish did not come to spawn in their native rivers.
“We have collected catch-per-effort data this season, which takes into account how many fish are caught in a standard size net per unit of time. So in these areas, such a catch ranged from zero to two pieces. As a result, most of the indigenous people did not go fishing, considering it a pointless waste of gasoline, time and effort, ”sums up the results of the fishing season, President of the Association of Indigenous Minorities of the North of the Khabarovsk Territory, Lyubov Odzyal.
The indigenous peoples of the Khabarovsk Territory, living in the Amur, Nanai, Khabarovsk, Solnechny, Komsomolsk districts, were left without fish: they could neither freeze, nor salt, nor prepare yukols. You can forget about ethnic food.
– In the same year, we could not count even three dozen spawned ketines in total. And traces of poaching are no longer visible, because now there is almost nothing to take. Bioresources do not hold up to our appetites. We are able to include salmon in the Red Book, as has already happened in the Amur Region, but for some reason we are not able to limit our own appetite for barbaric resource extraction, ”says Alexander Frolenok, head of the volunteer brigade at Amgun.
The monitoring results show that the returns of the autumn chum salmon in 2022 and subsequent years with the available number of parents in the period from 2018 to 2021 will be minimal. It is no longer worth counting on rich catches.
In addition to the temporary closure of industrial production, WWF Russia proposes to ensure an environmental examination of materials substantiating the volumes of anadromous fish species production in specific water bodies and their parts, as well as to create fishery reserves in important areas of the main spawning tributaries.
Olga Cheblukova, Project Coordinator for Specially Protected Natural Areas of the Amur branch of WWF-Russia:
– When allocating quotas on the Amur, the priority pyramid was turned upside down.
First, there should be provision of conditions for the preservation of wild salmon populations, then – for the needs of traditional and recreational fishing, and only then – for business. In the inverted pyramid, the spawning grounds are empty, the indigenous population – without the usual food, the animals – without food, but industrial enterprises in the lower reaches of the Amur have developed more than five thousand tons of fish. The situation can only be changed by the introduction of a ban on industrial fishing. Everything else is half-measures, for example, the proposed KhabarovskNIRO shift of fishing to the mouth of the Amur in 2021 was tested unsuccessfully.