Security Council accepts the Salmon Challenge
The Russian Security Council has decided to confront Norway with the damage its commercial salmon fishing industry is doing to the future of Russia‘s wild Atlantic salmon stocks. The Russians have decided to make the issue a priority for discussion at the March 2013 meeting of the Norwegian-Russian intergovernmental commission.
This is an escalation of a long running saga of Russian diplomatic requests to limit the commercial salmon fishery off the coast of Finnmark that Norway has sidelined. It has been brought about by evidence of a serious decline in salmon numbers in the Kola Peninsular and proof from an independent team of scientists that up to 60% of the salmon the Norwegian nets catch are fish that should be allowed to return to Russian rivers.
The historic decision by Russia to bring matters to a head follows an appeal to the intergovernmental commission by Marina Kovtun, Governor of the Murmansk region. She decided to take action after meeting representatives of the North Atlantic Salmon Fund (NASF) in August. NASF has long been campaigning for the closure of the Finnmark fishery because of a disastrous lack of salmon in many of Norway‘s own rivers and the need to conserve Russia‘s shrinking wild Atlantic salmon stocks.
The decline in salmon numbers in the Kola is a great worry to the tourist industry of this remote Russian region north of Murmansk. In recent years the Kola rivers replaced Norway as the world‘s most prized destination for anglers but now there is concern over the state of wild Atlantic salmon stocks in both countries.
Russia‘s diplomatic moves to get its Norwegian neighbours to reduce the impact of their coastal net fishing have had no effect although the fishery is illegal under a United Nations agreement on the management of international migratory fish stocks. Conservationists think the invovement of the commission (its full title is the Russian-Norwegian Intergovernmental Commission for Economic, Industrial and Scientific-Technical Cooperation) could be the spur needed to end Norway‘s delaying tactics in promising to obey the UN convention but failing to take any action.
NASF Chairman Orri Vigfússon said: “We are delighted to get support from this powerful Norwegian-Russian Commission. The coast of Norway is now the world´s most dangerous place for wild salmon and the problems caused by the lethal bent netting are being exported to Russia.
“The Norwegian government promotes commercial salmon fisheries against the advice of its own scientific advisors. It is also a violation the UN International Law of the Sea Treaty. To make matters worse, the Norwegians license more and more fish farms that create an explosion of salmon parasites, diseases and pollution. They suffer mass escapes of farmed fish that wreck the distinct genetic makeup of the wild stocks by breeding with them.“
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