Russian soaring trout industry faces Green protests

May 23, 2008 15:42

Population of Kondopoga district, Karelia Republic (region in the North-West of Russia) have voiced energetic protest against rapid development of trout farming that has been observed in the region in the last few years, according to Expert North-West.

Trout farming is the most profitable segment of Karelia industry (the profitability of the segment amounts to about 30%). The share of Karelian trout production in the total Russia's production amounts to 75% and the number of farms facilities has been increasing year-to-year.

The new facilities have been usually launched on the sites which have good infrastructure, transport communications and qualified personnel. Kondopoga district complies with all these requirements being very attractive for farming business. According to official data, the production of salmon in Kondopoga district amounts to 1270 tonnes contributing 20% of Karelia's entire volume.

But the local people are against such rapid development of farming and the population of nearby villages believes that trout farming is harmful for the Onega Lake ecosystem. According to the locals claim, the farming triggers colouring of the lake water and deterioration of its quality, while people are deprived of the possibility to run their traditional artisanal fisheries. The changed structure of the water has also hit the abundance of wild fish stocks and other lake fauna species.

Case study

The report says that at present, the office of district attorney is investigating the case of Gutyro, IP Company, one of the oldest farmers of the region, which is now under threat of closing.

The first results of the investigation reportedly show that the water in the area was polluted by phosphates, iron, ammonia and oil products which are sooner "human-made" pollutants rather than products of the fish life cycle as the effluent purification plants do not function. Meanwhile, several more expert tests are to be carried out in order to establish the true causes of the pollution. However, examples have already been reported when farms were closed in response to the claims of the Green activists and local community.

Recently, the Kondopoga district authorities have initiated a meeting with scientists on the theme of ecological aspects of trout farming. According to the scientists, the main source of the Onega Lake's pollution is the local pulp mill.

But the local community will not accept the statements of the authorities. They believe that companies have considerably more cages for trout farming then they were permitted to have. Moreover, according to them, the authorities' measures are rather selective as they do not want to close the farms important for employment of the area.

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