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“Outnumbered, were forced to retreat...”

25 july 2014
Public fishing inspectors face serious poaching resistance.

For three years now, WWF-Russia supports volunteers helping out at the Russian Federal Fishery Agency on the Bolshaya River. This year the unit of public fishing inspectors began its work early July. After the first week they removed three illegally installed nets, but this was just a small part of a large-scaled criminal activity.

On the sixth of July observers spotted five boats with fishermen poaching in a small reach of river. However, poachers were unafraid of inspectors, who recorded everything on tape. More than that, the criminals unlawfully resisted when observers tried to remove illegally installed nets. After that, public inspectors contacted local police office with no respond and local office of the Federal Fishery Agency. For the next four hours observers were waiting for support, preventing poachers from taking the catch, but no officer showed up. Outnumber, the inspectors were forced to retreat.

The public inspectors don’t have power to detain poacher or draw official protocols on them. The only thing they can do is to observe and notify police. But their presence at the scene of a crime is retaliatory deterrent. Without them the situation on the Bolshaya River would have been far worse”, - thinks Sergey Rafanov, the head of Bering Sea Ecoregional office of WWF-Russia.

With reference to poaching, the Bolshaya River and its feeders is the most problematic place in Kamchatka. It’s impossible to assess the real scale of criminal activity. But it’s surely far higher than anywhere in other places of Kamchatka. And the average poaching rate on the peninsula is approximately 10% of legal fishing amount.

In shallow water near the river hundreds of dead fish can be found
© WWF-Russia / Sergey Vakhrin
Poachers took only roe
© WWF-Russia / Sergey Vakhrin