Environmentally damaging Fishing will continue in Russian EEZ
According to WWF’s researches the cost of the damage incurred to seabird through Russian driftnet bycatch in 2011 is around $7,452,778. Nevertheless Russian Fishery Agency has allocated quotas for driftnet fishing in 2012. The estimated total amount of catch in Russian EEZ next year is 22,500 metric tons. (Usually about 30% of the quota is allocated to Japanese vessels, and about 70% to Russian vessels. Japanese fishing operations are approved by protocols of the Russian-Japanese Commission).
Industrial at-sea drift-net fishery operates at a distance from 12 to 200 miles from the coastline on migratory routes of salmon. The total net capacity per day might be up to 860 miles. The at-sea driftnet fishery targets sockeye salmon, while other species of salmon (pink, chum) are less desirable. At-sea driftnet gear seriously damages fish condition and reduces the value of its products. According to coastal Chukotka fishermen reports, from 20 to 60% of Sockeye salmon are injured by nets.
Analysis of official data on the current state of fisheries held in the last two years and fishery independent verification of control measures by the Russian Audit Chamber and by the Kamchatka Parliament, in 2011, show that effective control of fishing is virtually nonexistent. Fishing vessels either do not report on by-catch of non-target objects, including seabirds and marine mammals or significantly (on average 11 times) underestimate the data.
Driftnet fishing, according to WWF, could have serious adverse environmental and economic consequences. For example, before 1970th large-scale driftnet fishing for salmon at the high seas carried out by the Japanese vessels led to a significant drop in near-shore fishery catch. In 1950th on Kamchatka 23 fish processing plants, 25 fish canneries, 18 freezers, 35 fish processing cooperatives and 30 fishing cooperatives were eliminated due to reduced salmon stocks and never appeared again.
That is why WWF Russia worked out some measures concerning salmon fishery management restrictions which should be taken in the nearest future. Among them are following:
- Creation of effective monitoring and surveillance system would provide robust and trustworthy scientific bycatch data that can be used to regulate the fishery effectively.
- Improvement of fishing strategy and fishing regulations, the ecological expertise (Environment Impact Assessment - EIA) for salmon should be open to the participation of academic experts, associations of fishermen, regional fisheries councils, local authorities and environmental control governmental and non-governmental organizations.
For better control and mitigating impact of driftnetting, amend the Rules for the Far East Fishing Regulations on the length of nets. The length should not be longer than one kilometer per operation, on time of net deployment– no longer than 12 hours per operation, and distance of fishing - no further than three miles from the coastline.