Whitefish culture succeeding in Curonian Spit
Three years ago Russia's Federal Fisheries Agency launched the project in order to save whitefish from extinction and at the same time support local farmers with the state order. Towards that end, a special nursery was built in the Curonian Spit to grow whitefish fry. In order to avoid high mortality rates the nursery was adjusted to very strict breeding conditions covering round-the-clock checks of oxygen content, water and air temperatures, content of nitrates and nitrites, etc.
In natural habitat only two juveniles grow out of dozens of thousands of eggs and the nursery aims to achieve a much better survival rate, namely every fifth fish is to survive according to the farmers' plans. Towards that end the recruiters will be released into natural habitat in several lots with the total state order of stock to be released counting 150,000 young whitefish.
In some five years the project makers hope to raise the stock's potential harvest to commercial scale of 50 tonnes per year which will bring the fishermen at least RUR1.5 million.
Now the harvest amounts to some 2-3 tonnes only. If the fishermen bycatch Coregonus whitefish, they take it as good luck. For comparison, in 1990s Kaliningrad fishermen used to harvest about 5-7 tonnes of whitefish per year and in Soviet times the harvest would reach 50 tonnes (maximum 100 tonnes).
In retail network of Kaliningrad the fish fetches from RUR80.00 to RUR100.00 per kilo partly because it is not very popular in the region. In the meantime, in Siberia it costs ca.RUR250 per kilo and in Moscow and Saint Petersburg the price reaches even RUR1000 per kilo of Coregonus whitefish.