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The governors of 5 federal subjects of the Amur Basin signed a Memorandum on implementation of measures to preserve the Amur River ecosystem
Премия рунета 2017

The governors of 5 federal subjects of the Amur Basin signed a Memorandum on implementation of measures to preserve the Amur River ecosystem

02 september 2021
The Memorandum was signed on August 31 in Khabarovsk at the 1st Interregional Forum “Amur - the River of Life” in the presence of Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Victoria Abramchenko. WWF-Russia welcomes this decision of the governors and considers it a great follow-up of close interaction between the authorities and the public that started in the beginning of 21st century.

The Forum “Amur - the River of Life” was held in Khabarovsk by the initiative of the Governor of Khabarovsky province Mikhail Degtyarev. It was devoted to the issues of preserving freshwater ecosystem and the development of sustainable fishing. Representatives of federal and regional authorities, scientific community, fishing industry, public organizations were invited to participate in two thematic sessions.

At the Forum WWF-Russia presented the results of public monitoring of Pacific salmon spawning grounds filling in the Amur River and reported on the impact of fishing regulation measures on the Pacific salmon stocks.

The 1st Interregional Forum “Amur - the River of Life” in Khabarovsk
WWF Russia
Comments Peter Osipov, director of WWF Russia Amur branch: “The Memorandum is a wonderful continuation of the work that was launched by the Coordination Council for Sustainable Development of the Amur Basin. It included representatives of the highest executive bodies of the Amur Basin provinces, state environmental authorities and actively worked from 2003 to 2013. The Scientific and Public Council of environmental NGOs and scientific organizations, created under the Coordination Council is still functioning, uniting more than two dozen organizations in the Amur ecoregion. WWF welcomes the initiative of the governors and hopes that the decisions made during the Forum will help to preserve biodiversity and rare species of the Amur ecoregion.
Olga Cheblukova, WWF Russia, reports at the Forum “Amur - the River of Life”
WWF Russia
Olga Cheblukova, project coordinator on protected areas of WWF Russia Amur branch presented a report at the section “Development of sustainable fishing in the Amur River”: “With support of WWF Russia, volunteers of the Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North of Khabarovsky province have been inspecting the spawning tributaries of the Amur for the fourth year in a row. Our public monitoring confirmed the critically low filling of spawning grounds of summer and autumn chum salmon on the main spawning tributaries of the Amur over the past years. The rapid decline in stocks is confirmed by the negative dynamics of catches. The forecasts were disproportionately large compared to the available stock. Even those restrictions on fishing introduced in 2018 do not significantly change the situation. It is likely that if the previous trends continue, it will be necessary to introduce a permanent ban not only on catching summer chum salmon, but also on autumn chum salmon. Urgent drastic measures are needed in this situation”.

WWF Russia proposed the following measures to be included in the resolution of the Forum as a priority for the conservation of wild Amur chum salmon stocks:

1. Introduce a ban on commercial fishing of summer and autumn chum salmon in the Amur River and Amur estuary until a scientific justification is obtained based on data from field surveys of the main spawning grounds, taking into account the number of spawned fish.

2. Introduce state ecological expertise to assess catch quotas with the participation of public organizations.

3. Organize work on the creation of fisheries protected zones in key areas of the main spawning tributaries.

According to the results of the Forum, the Federal Fishery Agency was instructed, together with the governors, to submit proposals for the development of fishery complex programs in the regions, based on the characteristics and the most effective tools for each province of the Amur basin.

During the Forum, the Ministry of Natural Resources of Amurskaya province voiced the issue of river pollution during alluvial gold mining, which has reached catastrophic scales in recent years. Work to reduce the negative impact is being carried out jointly with WWF Russia.
“According to WWF, since the beginning of the mining season in 2020, 123 cases of pollution have been identified in the province with a total length of polluted river sites of about 3921 kilometers. In 2021, 97 cases of pollution with a total length of 3181 kilometers have already been identified,” said Elena Gorozhenko, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources of Amurskaya province. - Last year, the ministry surveyed 38 water bodies in the province, 27 of which revealed an excess of suspended solids content. The amount of damage to water bodies amounted to more than 149 million rubles, which is 3 times higher than in 2019. In 2021, 65 objects were examined, 46 facts of pollution of water bodies with suspended solids were revealed as a result of placer gold mining. Based on 26 revealed facts, a preliminary calculation of damage amounted to more than 196.2 million rubles. In our opinion, the increase in cases of pollution of watercourses is directly related to a significant increase in the number of issued exploratory licenses on a declarative basis, allowing to conduct careless development of gold deposits at the stage of exploration, causing significant harm to the environment.”
To solve this problem, the Governor of Amurskaya province Vasily Orlov made a number of proposals to the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Victoria Abramchenko. Among them are proposals to toughen penalties against unscrupulous gold miners, the introduction of restrictions on the issuance of licenses for prospecting alluvial gold, an increase in the role of regional authorities in making decisions on the issuance and early termination of licenses for gold mining, restrictions on the development of gold near protected areas and on rivers flowing through protected areas.
For additional information please contact
Project Coordinator of Protected Areas Unit, WWF Russia Amur Branch