News & Views
Belarus faces difficulties with recreational programs
April 18, 2022 By Vladimir Vorotnikov
Several fish species may reportedly cease to exist in Belarus since domestic hatcheries fail to ramp up production capacities, while import remains largely restricted.
In particular, Belarusian officials have raised concerns over a sharp decline in the eel (Anguilla anguilla L.) population. As explained by Tatiana Titova, chairman of the fauna and flora protection department at the State Environment-Protection Inspectorate, due to the construction of dams and hydroelectric power stations on the rivers, eel cannot independently reach the water bodies of Belarus.
Until recently, eel broodstock was imported into Belarus, but the supplies were halted by international trade restrictions and sanctions. Eel in Belarus may cease to exist in the coming five to 10 years, if a solution to this problem is not found, the Russian state-owned news outlet Sputnik reported, citing local scientists.
Last time, Belarus purchased eel broodstock in 2008. In order to maintain the population at the current level, the country needs around 1.8 million units of broodstock. Eel population in the country reached its peak in Soviet times, as 100 million units were released annually into the regional water bodies between 1976 and 1980.
Mikhail Chirko, head of the Belarusian National Park Braslavskiey Ozera, said that in 2021 Belarusian authorities entered into negotiations with the UK to source imported eel broodstock. However, no deal has been made so far.
Over the past decades, at least five fish species ceased to exist in Belarus, said Prokhor Zhukov, a local scientist, member of the Belarussian Academy of Science. Currently, the ecologists are primarily concerned over the future of the Baltic salmon (Salmo), the population of which has been seen steadily shrinking over the past few years.
The ecologists called the Belarusian authorities to build new hatcheries to combat the decline in the fish population. They also said that the Belarusian government must prohibit both commercial and recreational fishing of some species for the next few years, and enhance the struggle against poaching. A further decline in the population of some fish species threatens to undermine fish populations in neighbour Lithuania and Baltic salmon population in the Baltic Sea, the ecologists said.
However, the future of the Belarusian recreational campaign remains even more questionable now, as the U.S. and EU have sanctioned Belarus for aiding the Russian invasion, introducing tough financial and trade restrictions on the country.
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