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A.J. Haywood

Ban could be imposed on catching Lake Baikal's most famous fish - omul

By The Siberian Times reporter
25 September 2015

Poaching threatens the species which provide livelihoods for thousands around the lake.

A total ban on industrial fishing for the whitefish could be imposed from next year in the lake and inflowing Selenga River. Picture: Russkaya Rybalka

Omul are endemic to Lake Baikal, the oldest and deepest lake on the planet, but serious concern has been expressed over the fish's future. A total ban on industrial fishing for the whitefish could be imposed from next year in the lake and inflowing Selenga River. A decision is expected on 10 October by the Scientific and Technical Council of the Russian Ministry of Agriculture.

Officials from Gosrybtsentr (State Fishing Centre) warn of a significant decline in omul from between 23,000 and 25,000 tons in the years 1985-2004, and 14,000 to 15,000 tons now. Gosrybtsentr official Vladimir Peterfeld, said: 'A steady decline in the number of omul has been observed recently in Lake Baikal. This is directly related to the decrease in the total number of spawning stock entering the rivers [around Baikal]. So now the question of  a reducing the population is very acute.'

Baikal omul


Baikal omul

Unemployment among residents living close to the lake means people 'are forced to feed themselves' through illegal catches of omul. Pictures: @zur_zvezdochet, Vladimir Kolesnikov

He added: 'Currently, the local department of fishing surveillance is physically unable to keep the situation under surveillance as as well as in the 1980s. Then staff numbers were three times more.'

Unemployment among residents living close to the lake means people 'are forced to feed themselves' through illegal catches of omul.

In theory a temporary ban on fishing is imposed now. It runs from 15 August until November, yet locals have not stopped fishing. The fish - including its caviar - is seen as a delicacy. Along with Baikal seals, the fish is one of the great symbols of the world famous lake. 

Baikal omul

Along with Baikal seals, omul is one of the great symbols of the world famous lake. Picture: Baikalfish

Innokenty Yegorov, first deputy in the government of the Republic of Buryatia, said: 'Look at the Kabansky motorway. As far as Irkutsk region people openly sell omul.

'During and before the spawning period - and after, too.  Nobody deals with withdrawing of the caviar from sale. People pass on the road. Stop, buy, and drive on.'

Comments (1)

I so much appreciate your environmental/scientific reporting.
If the rest of the world would just wake up, and listen. We might just make it..
eirik, norway
27/09/2015 11:40
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