Private fish hatcheries of Sakhalin need more intelligent state policy in salmon reproduction

April 9, 2012 16:04

Russia's incorrect state policy as to transfer of salmon reproduction functions to private companies has led to conflict of business interests and strategic purposes on sustainable reproduction and stock-saving exploitation of salmon stocks in Sakhalin, reports

More specifically, discussion on expediency of construction (and even existence) of fish hatcheries have flared up in Sakhalin recently. "Sakhalin Environmental Watch" says that local hatcheries do harm, for instance, bigger reproduction volumes of chum salmon in the Kurile Bay have led to the fact that the gene pool of the hatchery's chum salmon stock has been quickly substituting the gene pool of natural populations of the same river basin.

Actually, there are various points of view as to the efficiency of reproduction activities on the return of artificially hatched stock. However, the main problem lies in ownership relations which are in the core of the conflict.

The thing is that a state instrument on production of state owned resources (salmons) has been secured not by fish hatcheries, but by private owners whose main goal is profit.

In this situation, the state should make contracts with business entities for production of stocks and pay for them, however, instead it is going to get rid of state-owned hatcheries in order to minimize budget expenses.

In case such contracts were made business could cover investments into hatchery's construction and maintenance only via fishing scheme. In other words, they would have to harvest salmon and sell it on the market.

Under the current economical conditions such scheme is possible only in closed system - e.g. in Iturup (where Russia's first MSC-certified fisheries are located) where one company produces salmon, harvests and processes it and therefore is interested in sustainable exploitation of the stock.

In Sakhalin such scheme is not practiced. Water bodies located close to river mouths belong to completely different companies. Where could they take salmon which would pay them back costs for plant's maintenance and bring profit? Only in the river. This has given rise to various fish registration blocks and fishing sites which have caused much criticism in business circles.

Thus the west coast of Sakhalin would hardly attract business as private owners would have to invest up to RUR 150 million into a hatchery itself and work over the stock recovery for several years simultaneously fighting against local poachers who have already destroyed the stocks.

At the same time, east coast of Sakhalin could attract business as there are fish rivers which could guarantee the project's payback and profit earning.

The situation is faulty in general. It is quite clear that wild rivers have indisputable value and only those rivers which have no salmon should be stocked. However, business is business.

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