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Salmon 2013 campaign is underway

2013-09-04

Salmon 2013 campaign, launched on 2 September, shall run until 20 November. It seeks to ensure protection of migration paths and spawning of both salmon and sea trout.

According to the Minister Valentinas Mazuronis, speaking at a press conference hosted today in the Ministry of Environment, “I am glad that this campaign is tenth in a row, yet unparalleled in terms of scope. Environmentalists shall have help of police, national defence volunteers and amateur fishermen. Joint effort alone can help to restore and increase salmon resources. The key objective is to change the way we all think, rather than to catch and punish poachers. What people must realise that by protecting salmon they also protect common assets, i.e. their own assets too”. The conference, apart from the Minister, also involved Linas Jonauskas, vice-minister of Environment, Kęstutis Motiekaitis, head of the Fauna Use Control Division at the Environmental Protection Agency, Renatas Požėla, deputy Police commissar general and colonel lieutenant Petras Milašius, chief of G5 division at the headquarters of the national defence volunteer forces.

Key places involved in the campaign include – Baltic Sea coast, the Curonian Lagoon, Nemunas delta region, Nemunas, Dubysa, Neris, Žeimena, Šventoji, Siesartis, and Vilnelė rivers and their tributaries as well as approach roads and other roads leading to these bodies of water. The campaign shall be run in 2 stages: on the Baltic Sea coast, the Curonian Lagoon, Nemunas delta region, and Nemunas river it shall continue from 2 September to 20 October, while in Nemunas, Dubysa, Neris, Žeimena, Šventoji, Siesartis, and Vilnelė rivers and their tributaries, it shall run 1 October to 20 November.

Current campaign is tenth consecutive one

Salmon is probably most valued type of fish since time immemorial found in our rivers and the Baltic Sea. Its resources have been on steady decrease in Lithuania since the fifties. In the seventies, salmon was already included in the Lithuanian Red List. Consequently there were concerns raised for restoration of resources of the so-called royal fish.

Salmonidae travels to spawn from the sea to the rivers each year. They must cover several hundred kilometres on the way to the spawning grounds. What most prevent restoration of resources of wild salmon are poachers, catching the fish on their way to spawning. They interrupt travelling of salmon that has covered over 300 km in order to start a new generation and life in the shoals of the native river. As a result, environmentalists have carried out Salmon campaign since 2002 to protect migration paths and spawning grounds for salmon. The campaign took place in autumn until 2011.

Campaigns were used to organise watching by the bodies of water used for migration and spawning of salmon and sea trout. Some of the largest cases of poaching were discovered in October 2006. At that time, environmentalists in Pabradė arrested 4 locals, catching salmon in Žeimena with a power device. 4.2 kg of unlawfully collected salmon caviar was found in the possession of the offenders. The poachers were prosecuted, with a civil claim of LTL 123,232 filed to compensate for the damage to fish resources.

Key outcomes of Salmon campaign, also approved by scientists, include growing resources of salmonidae. As a result, in 2011 salmon was removed from the Lithuanian Red List. Still, efforts must be placed particularly on protection of salmon and sea trout and national protection of respective resources, as this fish is becoming increasingly popular with amateur fishermen. E.g. in 2011, 2,474 cards of amateur fishermen were purchased for fishing salmon and sea trout, while in 2012, the same number amounted to 7,612.

To ensure best conditions for migration and spawning of the fish in question, in 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency established longer period for spawning and migration, so that owners of hydro power plants could open culverts for fish. In line with rules on use of ponds, these culverts should have been open since 1 October. However, until that time fish and sea trout going for spawning would flock at dams and a significant number would be caught by poachers; the fish would also be injured when trying to tackle a dam. Results of 2013 show that in Neris basin, spawning and migration period lasts from 4 September until 31 December, in other river basins, from 15 September until 31 December, therefore the culverts must be opened from 4 or 15 September.

During the campaign, the environmentalists shall watch places of campaign, control business, amateur and special fishery, stop and inspect vehicles of individuals suspected of violations of fishing requirements. They shall use latest technical measures for monitoring of an area, video recording, etc.

The campaign, apart from State and non-permanent environmental protection inspectors and other environmental protection officers, also involves officers of police, national defence volunteers and the State Border Guard services. According to Linas Jonauskas, vice-minister of the Environment, speaking at the press conference today, the same officers are invited to pass examination and become non-permanent environmental protection inspectors. The ranks of the said inspectors are gaining. They are very helpful to officers of environmental protection when fighting offences and prevent the same.

Public Information Division

04/09/2013


Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas
Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas