What will help Salmon more – fish hatcheries or effective anti-poaching?
Today WWF published its Position on Fish Hatcheries and Aquaculture issues as a response to the state plans for increase of the numbers and capacity of fish farming within the frames of the Federal Targeted Programme “Increasing Efficiency and Development of the Fish Industry Complex Potential for 2009 to 2013”. According to the opinion of those who developed the latter document it won’t be possible to maintain necessary stocks of aquatic biological resources without additional increase in capacity of fish hatcheries.
Large-scale construction of new fish hatcheries to raise young salmon and release it into the wild is planned for the Far East. Only at the Kurile Islands is it expected to build twenty fish hatcheries.
'There is a dangerous illusion that captive breeding will be enough to substitute natural. The fact that such approach is wrong has already been confirmed by entire global experience” – notes Konstantin Zgurovsky, Head of WWF Russia Marine Programme.
As it is known from the worldwide practices it is not the case that salmon fish farming lead to positive results in nature; on the contrary it can be even harmful for natural salmon populations. Planning and project designs for the fish hatcheries construction is often done without taking into account all consequences that might emerge for the wild salmon populations, for river and coastal ecosystems, and also for the epizootic situation. In practice most of the fish hatcheries are subsidized, and there is no reliable method to assess their efficiency. The latter is judged on the basis of the released quantities of young fish, rather than on the basis of the reproductive stock return rate. There is no system for permanent monitoring of salmon fish stocks and for assessments of the carrying capacity of freshwater and marine environment; there is no system of marking for the released fish either.
'Fish hatcheries are not at all a uniform solution, - considers Konstantin Zgurovsky. – Salmon is under threat because of large-scale poaching at all the spawning rivers, because of deterioration in the habitat quality, and because of the ineffective system of control and management of salmon fisheries”. WWF is certain that protection of natural spawning sites and migration routes for fish and invertebrates shall be given a higher priority rather than development of fish farming.
In the Position on Fish Hatcheries and Aquaculture WWF also suggests a number of measures that shall be considered in order to have new fish hatcheries development with zero harm to natural fish populations. Thus, WWF experts propose to define areas where construction of fish hatcheries shall be banned completely (combined with conservation action priorities for natural reproduction); also it is suggested that legislative acts defining all provisions for design, construction and operations of fish hatcheries shall be developed and approved urgently. Construction of fish hatcheries for captive breeding of salmon shall be under the strict control of the state.