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When the last sturgeon will be caught…

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By Zulfiya Bainekeeva

Retired veteran of fish industry Vera Dzhamalova (on a photo) currently lives in Astana, but once or twice a year she comes to Atyrau, the city where she was born and worked all her life in the fishing industry.

V. Dzhamalova says that she has big concerns over the fact that sturgeon population is drastically decreasing in the region. She is shocked that despite the enforced moratorium for fishing sturgeon 5 years ago, she can see that young sturgeon fish is openly sold at the local markets.

So, the destructive illegal fishing is still thriving in the region. “I am shocked when I see this abundance and availability of young sturgeon fish in the market. I am shocked by the indifference of the local people to this problem. What are we going to leave behind to our children and grandchildren? 

Vera DzhamalovaVera DzhamalovaWe shouldn’t allow to  fish in the pre-estuary zone

Fishermen tell me that there is no fish in the river any more, even the widespread Caspian asp. I thought about it, where young sturgeon fish could be caught and realized that it is caught in the pre-estuary zone where it is allowed to catch ordinary types of fish in the marine zone. Those who have licenses for fishing along side with poachers are the suppliers of sturgeon to the local illegal market. In other words the fish is basically does not the opportunity to lay eggs, all fish is caught in the estuary zone.

The fishing companies should not be given permit to fish in pre-esturay zone, but in other grounds, say, further than Makhambet village that is located 60 km up the river.  Esturay zone should be treated as nature conservation area.

The population of sturgeon and ordinary types of fish has drastically decreased because the government resolution allows to fish in that conservation area.

-  Is this the only reason why we have such a huge drop in population of fish in the river?  

- No, there are also two more reasons. The number of spawners has decreased because fish is caught indiscriminately, regardless of its size and age.

And dredging activites ahave not been performned for ages, the estuary has piled up with garbage, sand and silt and fish cannot pass through. We have a viscous circle here: fish cannot pass through and gets crowded in the estuary that plays into the hands of poachers and licensed fishermen.

“Moratorium is pointless”

Yulia KimYulia KimDoctor of biological science, deputy director of Atyrau branch of Kazaskhtan Scientific and Research  Institute of Fishery Yulia Kim (on a photo) commented:

- Because there is no proper navy that could go for fishing into the sea, the fishermen are forced to catch fish in the estuary, and that is the spawning fish that cannot pass the estuary. If this situation will continue then we can cut up the fish stock.

In my opinion, fishing in the estuary must be banned; we can reopen it again when we have a proper navy fleet.

As for the enforced moratorium, it has a declarative character. Any moratorium requires financial investments and undertaken measures that lead to restoration of fish population. But with sturgeon they declared moratorium and that’s it. I am sure that poachers are happy about that fact because now they have no competitors, like industrial fishing.

Such moratorium is of no use. If the people in power truly wished to combat poaching, then it is a possible thing, but it seems that it is not the aim of certain circles, therefore, it is all just wish-wash.

December 5 2014, 17:55

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