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WWF-Russia sums up the results of the salmon fishing season in Kamchatka
06 september 2019
Comparing to the other regions of the Russian Far East, Kamchatka has been experiencing consistently high salmon runs for the last decade. They are associated both with successful fishery management and with favorable natural factors.
Salmon fishing season in Kamchatka is nearing completion. The catch data may still change, but these changes will be minor. As of September 1, 370 thousand tons of salmon were caught in Kamchatka. Such high approaches can be explained by the cumulative effect of a number of factors.
First of all, in 2010 a new basin Olympic system was introduced. It played a major role in the fight against industrial poaching. Prior to its introduction, in pursuit of profits, fishers could underestimate the actual catch and replace some species of Pacific salmon with others in their reports. According to rough estimates, the shadow catch could reach 50% of the legal catches. The Olympic system, on the contrary, encourages fishermen to show their entire catch and provide accurate information. These data form the basis of fishery regulation, make it easier for scientists to predict the occupancy rate of spawning grounds, and make it possible to more accurately predict the volume of salmon return to spawning in a few years.
“The certification of fisheries against the standards of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is one of the main drivers for companies to work publicly and openly. In recent years, eco-labeling of fish products has gone a long way from an optional indicator of the company's environmental responsibility to the necessary conditions for trading fish and seafood in lucrative markets of Europe and Asia. This encourages the fishing industry to make every effort to obtain a certificate,” said Sergey Korostelev, coordinator of the program for sustainable marine fisheries of the Kamchatka branch of WWF Russia.
Compared to last year, the list of MSC-certified companies in Kamchatka increased by 7 and reached 16 companies. Another 28 companies are in the process of fisheries assessment, and most of them are likely to receive certificates next year. The total salmon catch of this year reached 370 thousand metric tons (actual on September 1) in Kamchatka. Approximately, 35% of this catch was certified against MSC standards (in 2018, this figure was 26%); throughout the Russian Far East, the total catch amounted to 440 thousand tons, 30% of which were certified (20% in 2018).
The steps to counteract poaching are bearing fruit. For several consecutive years, WWF-Russia, together with the Save Salmon TOGETHER! Fund, supported the work of public inspectors on the Bolshaya River. Subsequently, fishery managers established their posts to protect the river from poachers as well. On the other hand, toughening legislation and tightening control over illegal fishing by law enforcement agencies have made poaching simply unprofitable.
The situation with salmon fishing in Kamchatka is most favorable compared to other regions of the Russian Far East and especially in comparison with Sakhalin. For many years, the Sakhalin Oblast and the Kamchatka Krai competed in salmon catch volumes. However, unlike Kamchatka, the island decided to focus on the development of private salmon ocean ranching. Priority was given to breeding pink salmon, which has a low homing* instinct, which led to chronic non-filling of natural spawning grounds in conditions of high fishing press. As a result, starting around 2012, catches on Sakhalin Island began to decline significantly. This example underscores the need to refrain from implementing commercial artificial reproduction projects and focus on maintaining the health of natural, wild populations of Pacific salmon.
* homing is the inherent ability of salmon to return into the exact same river in which they were born for spawning
Photo in the news header and announcement - John Simeone / WWF-US.