Oil – for the happy few and till tomorrow. Salmon for everybody and forever
Participants were the staff of WWF Russia and just ordinary passers by. Accompanied by funeral-style music a huge can of Salmon was brought in, and the ceremonial farewell speech stated that that we might loose Salmon at Kamchatka if oil development projects continue.
Eugene Shvarts, WWF Russia Conservation Policy Director, symbolically cooked Salmon on a huge fry-pan, using crude oil for frying. Final highlight of the “Farewell to Salmon” ceremony was that the Salmon was taken away from people by the oil balloons – away and forever.
During the performance WWF Russia collected signatures for the better future of Kamchatka and against oil extraction projects on Western Kamchatka shelf.
Early June Russian Rosneft plans to start surveys for oil at Kamchatka. Exploration and development of oil resources will pose a severe threat to biological resources of this region, including one third of all fish resources in Russia, - warns WWF.
Oil exploration and development at Western Kamchatka shelf has a number of ecological risks, first of all there is a threat of oil spills. This is a seismically active zone, thus the probability of oil spills is extremely high. Ice cover in the northern parts of the Sea of Okhotsk remains for about seven months, and there are currently no technologies in the world to clean-up the oil spills when ice cover is present. Because of the low water temperatures in the northern parts of the Sea of Okhotsk natural self-purification of marine ecosystems will take too long as well.
This can be detrimental to the valuable resources of commercially important fish species, including the Kamchatka populations of Salmon. Fish products from Kamchatka will loose their credits as ecologically pure, it will be easier for competitors to push it out from the markets, and entire fisheries industry there will be less attractive for investors.
In November 2007 and in March 2008 non-governmental organizations concerned about these new ecological risks linked to oil development in the unique Kamchatka areas sent their recommendations to the Russian Government. “The Government did not support our proposals, and in April 2008 state environmental impact assessment service gave a permit for the first exploratory drilling, - says Alexei Knizhnikov, Head of WWF Russia Programme on oil and gas sector environmental policies. – In this situation we have only one way forward – to call upon the citizens of Russia with the appeal to sign a collective request to the Government”.
Campaign for moratorium on oil development in the region already started at Kamchatka. In May 2008 Committee of NGOs for conservation of West Kamchatka shelf started to collect signatures for moratorium on oil development there, and two thousand Kamchatka citizens have already signed this appeal.