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​Whose trap nets fishery inspection is guarding?

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By Zulfiya Bainekeeva

Multiple fishing trap nets are installed on the water territories that are supposed to be under the protection of Atyrau regional territorial inspection of forestry and fauna (i.e. fish conservation agency). After the trip to the Caspian Sea one question is still bothering the mind: from whom they are protecting the sea?

Further into the sea...

My acquaintances who have access to the sea couldn't explain to me what a trap net looks like that our fishing control security structures were using. It was hard to believe what they said, so, to cut a long story short, I said that I want to see it with my own eyes.

Early in the morning we were moving towards Kamynino - the left coast of the Caspian Sea. You should take extra care when you move on a boat in these waters maneuvring between fish trap nets that are as long as 300-550 meters.

So, what is fish trap net? It is a trap installed perpendicular to the water course. Its design consists of 3-4 meter poles that are piled into the bottom of the sea liked ribs. Between the poles there are fine-meshed network – “wings" or “walls"and closer to the coast there are “bochata" - cylindrical nets on round hoops that have a “mouth" (an opening) at one end. Fish trapped by walled nets flows into those cylindrical nets. Trap net is considered a sparing tackle because fish doesn't die and stays alive for a long time in water.

I was struck not by a multiple number of those trap nets, but by the fact that those nets were installed with so much thoroughness. Everything proved that their owners are not at the back of fear of an unexpected round-up. All water surface as far as your eyes could see, was covered with poles or plastic bottle floats.

On the area about 4,5 square kilometers with coordinates 46z46'498'' a northern latitude and 052z08'551'' east longitude I counted five trap nets and a few dozens of nets.

We arrived to the spot at 7am in the morning. Apparently, fish was already taken from nets, but in trap nets there was a new batch of fish. They say that the catch from only one trap net in one day varies from one ton to four tons, providing the southeast wind or “moryana" is blowing. The income of owners of all these fish traps are enormous even from common fish, leaving alone sturgeons. And this is only one spot. According to the people who accompanied me, that was only the beginning - Kamynino is approximately 20 kilometers away from the connecting channel of Zarosly. In other words, if you travel further into the sea, you will see more of those tackles. In actual fact, the mouth of the Caspian Sea is blocked across, fish moving up and down has no way out, except obediently dive into trap nets or “bochatas".

This is simply a miracle that in our river and in the sea we still have fish! It is inconceivable, how fish nevertheless manages to bypass those solid obstacles.

"It is not scientific fishing"

Fishing season and time of trade fishing has run out, then who is doing robbery fishing in the sea? Scientific fishing? In such volumes and with such means?

- It is not scientific fishing, this is not our quota, - said the practicing ichthyologist whom I addressed for comments.

In those water zones only people who have a "roof" (protection from the side of officials) can work. Any boat cannot simply navigate into that area, even our scientific boats stopped, registered and we pay money. Please understand, the more controlling security structures we have, the more poachers are there. These are not my words, they were officially voiced at the recent Russian-Kazakhstan meetings devoted to protection of fish.

Atyrau regional territorial inspection of forestry and fauna didn't' deny this assumption, as well as they refused to comment on scandalous video.

I tried to have a meeting with the head of fish protection agency Murat Ermekkaliev for three days; it is remarkable, that in our telephone conversation I asked him to tell me about heroic deeds of everyday life of his agency, about the course of meliorative works and mentioned that I have a certain video and that I would like to get his professional comment on it. I never told him what video was about - we didn't discuss it. It was on Friday. He made an appointment for Monday, without telling a specified time. On Monday he made an excuse that he has to go to a meeting, and the following day he never picked up the phone. Then I called his employee, the chief of control and inspection department Oleg Tushkanov. He demonstrated the miracles of insight knowledge.

- Oh, you are talking about that video with trap nets? - he guessed.

To tell the truth, nobody was supposed to know about videos that I made during that trip… Anyway, the acting head of department of icthyological monitoring and regulation of fishery Azamat Abigaliyev had a meeting with me. Azamat confirmed that Kamynino is their site of protection, but he had no idea how those tackles appeared in Kamynino. I asked him to tell Mr. Ermekkaliev, the head of the agency, that we are ready to listen to his version, but he ignored our kind proposal.

So who those trap nets belong to?

Photos and video taken by the author

August 6 2015, 12:30

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