Scientists shared data on Kamchatka Salmon poaching
Illegal harvest comprises 53% to 70% of the total legal catch of Kamchatka Salmon, and this is over 50 thousand tons of fish each year. Commercial fishing makes the largest illegal contribution: experts consider that fishing companies are forced to move into the shadow businesses because of the low profitability of the commercial fishing process and of the weak positions of fishing companies at the international markets.
Lack of alternative sources of income for local population in the majority of Kamchatka regions also determines the development of criminal poaching and other fisheries-related activities such as illegal harvesting and illegal production of fish and caviar products outside the certified industrial processes.
In the Avacha and Paratunka rivers poachers take out up to 85% of all the fish that enters for spawning, and there water bodies have already lost their commercial value. In the Bolshaya river poaching comprises 78% of the total legal catch, and in the Kamchatka river – 55%. With the development of gas pipeline construction and related road and infrastructure development more and more new river banks become accessible for poachers.
Though the resources of Kamchatka “Red Gold” are still stable, this will inevitably change soon: “Stability of Salmon populations is determined by the high survival rates in the sea, but larger part of population comes back to the rivers in five to seven years, which means that the consequences of poaching pressure will be reflected in the number decline of Kamchatka Salmon species already in the nearest 2-4 years”, – says Oleg Zaporozhets, leading research scientist of Salmon population number dynamic and forecasts laboratory of Kamchatka State Research Enterprise “KamchatNIRO”.
In order to reduce poaching the experts from WWF and GEF/UNDP Project “Conservation and Sustainable Use of Kamchatka Salmon Biodiversity” developed a number of non-compulsory measures that include, for example, set up of mobile anti-poaching units to operate during the harvest period and monitoring of Salmon products market.
“It is already for the second year that WWF provides funding for anti-poaching unit of Kronotsky State Nature Reserve, and this leads to practical nature conservation outputs. But the market mechanisms should also be applied in the fight against poaching: we are certain that voluntarily MSC certification which brings advantages when the company goes to international markets would act among such market stimula to bring the fishing companies out of the shadow businesses”, - tells Anatoly Dekshtein, coordinator of Marine Programme in the Kamchatka/Bering Sea WWF Ecoregion branch.