Investment Portal of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation

Nursery for Krasnoyarsk taimen: a protected area for the wonder fish

Bakhta River, the new nature reserve, appeared in Krasnoyarsk Territory

14 january 2023

At the beginning of 2023, a new nature reserve, the Bakhta River, began operations in the north of Krasnoyarsk Territory. The Bakhta River with its tributaries and a 200-metre-wide strip of coastline from the water's edge is placed under special protection on an area of 27,000 ha where fishing for common taimen and lenok, valuable salmon fisheries, is prohibited. However, not for everyone. What is the significance of the new protected area in the Krasnoyarsk Territory?

Salmon fish nursery

The populations of taimen and lenok of the Ob and Angara rivers are included in the Red Book of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, states Sergey Chuprov, Associate Professor of the Department of Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecosystems of the Siberian Federal University, in his online encyclopaedia. They have declined significantly in recent years, he said—uncontrolled fishing has led to an overall decline in the number of valuable fish in the region's rivers. The situation is worsened by the fact that taimen and lenok are commercial salmon species, distinguished by their exquisite taste and high demand on the tables of gourmets and in the kitchens of eminent restaurants across the country.

The Bakhta River Nature Reserve is intended to become a nursery for the red-listed salmon. Pavel Borzykh, Minister of Ecology and Rational Nature Management of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, noted that the Bakhta River is a natural reserve of salmon species. 'The feeding and breeding grounds of other valuable fish species are located here as well. Our task is not only to preserve them but also to increase their population,' he said.

The Bakhta River is located in the Turukhansky district, which belongs to areas of the Far North. The population density there is just 0.06 people per km², and the Vankor oil and gas field is being developed in the northwest of the region. In addition to taimen and lenok, the black stork, red-breasted goose, lesser white-fronted goose, white-tailed eagle, eagle owl and other birds are also protected by the state in the protected area. It is also home to the unique Stubendorf's Saussurea flower, also included in the Red Data Book of the Russian Federation.

The construction of commercial and residential buildings, campsites, swimming on water bodies and the organisation of tourist camps will be prohibited in the protected area. The right to fish, on the other hand, is reserved for small indigenous peoples.

Fishing, can't let go

The possibility for certain groups to fish or hunt in places where they are not allowed by law is part of the policy of supporting the traditional use of natural resources by small indigenous peoples in Russia. The Evenki, Kets and Selkups live on the territory of Turukhansky district, comprising 11.08% of the district's population (data from open sources). Their culture and lifestyle are directly linked to the type of economy, namely hunting and reindeer herding. Without the ability to fish, they cannot fully reproduce the rhythm of life that has developed over many thousands of years. However, if we estimate the total volume of taimen and lenok caught by all indigenous peoples of the area for their own needs, it would be quite insignificant for the population reproduction. An important note is that caught fish is not allowed to be sold, as this would automatically make the catch poached.

In addition to a number of allowances for those who use nature in a traditional way, a number of other support measures are in place for indigenous minorities in Russia. For example, the state helps them sell reindeer herding products, organises special education and employment programmes and offers additional regional payments on the occasion of the birth of a child.

A total of 19 small indigenous peoples live in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation, with 102,000 inhabitants, according to the 2010 census.

However, it cannot be said that local residents of the Turukhansky district were left without the opportunity to visit the nature reserve. You can still pick berries and wild plants there, as well as hunt permitted birds and animals. According to the regional government, the organisation of the new Bakhta River protected area was a local initiative supported by the leadership of the Krasnoyarsk Territory. Altogether there are 112 protected areas of regional significance with a total area of 3,212,400 ha, or 1.36% of the region's territory.


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