Drift-net marine salmon fishing in the form it exists now in Russia shall be completely banned
Already for many years WWF carries out the campaign to put substantial restrictions or for complete ban of drift-net salmon fishing by Japanese fishing fleet in the Russian waters.
«Marine drift-net fishing for Salmon exists in the US and in Canada, - tells Konstantin Zgurovsky, the Head of WWF Russia Marine Programme. – But they do not have the situations like we have in our seas, when multi-kilometer drift-nets are set like the “death walls” in our marine waters by Japanese fishermen. Studies made with WWF support in the Sea of Okhotsk and in the Bering Sea, with results published already in 2004, demonstrated tremendous damage to marine ecosystems from such fishing activities. Many seabirds and marine mammals – such as Whales, Dolphins, Northern Fur Seals and Steller’s Sea Lions – are caught and die in such drift-nets. It also leads to mortality of Short-tailed Albatross, while its global population is as small as 1200 individuals. Besides, in the current situation it is extremely difficult to control this type of fishing, and as a result most valuable salmon species are over-fished».
Is it was found out, fishing for research purposes, done in the same way, also leads to similar challenges. Data obtained from drift-net “research vessels” are hardly so valuable for science. As it is stated correctly by Mr. Granatov, it is mostly Sockeye Salmon that is harvested by national drift-net fishing vessels, which means that for every 400 tons of Sockeye Salmon one does not count for 600 to 1000 tons of Chum and Pink Salmon that is just thrown back overboard. Simultaneously immature Salmonids that inhabit upper sea layers suffer as well. This year the quota for Sockeye Salmon given to sixteen Russian drifters is increased up to 14 thousand tons, - which is already three times larger figure that the total allowable catch of Sockeye Salmon in all the Kamchatka river basins where fishing is carried by standard fixed nets.
At the same time coastal fixed-net fishing for salmon, when all the requirements are adequately met, - is among the most sustainable ecologically. It is also easier to control, it is not related to any bycatch issues, and at the same time it is much more cost-effective compared to marine drift-net fishing. Besides, the fishermen who have fixed coastal fishing sites in the long-term lease from the state are fishing “their own salmon”, and are much more corcerned as a result about protection of fishing areas against poachers. Coastal infrastructure is being developed, local jobs are secured, and uncontrolled poaching for subsistence reduces as a result as well.
Therefore WWF strongly supports the request of Kamchatka legislative bodies and fishermen that the complete ban on large-scale drift-net salmon fishing shall be introduced in the exclusive economic zone of Russian Federation.