Inland Fisheries in Russia: Tales from the Past and Lessons for the Future
Dmitry F. Pavlov and Dmitry D. Pavlov
We, the authors, are father and son. As fishery professionals, we have both witnessed great changes in Russia’s inland fisheries industry over the years. In the 1930s, great famine hit the country. For our (grand)father’s family, fishing was a means of survival. Considered recreational fishermen, they fished with fishing rods and hooks because traditional commercial fishing with nets was considered poaching, a serious criminal offense. This recreational fishing allowed our family to survive the famine. As a result, fishing was, and still is, something our (grand)father considers sacred.
Our family story was from long ago, but inland fisheries are still important today. We often see a man who sells fish on the street in our town, Borok. We know his story; he is a pensioner and his son is unemployed. Of course, the man and his son receive some money from social services, but this is usually only modest support. They catch fish in extreme conditions, in the summer heat and in winter, when the wind is terrible, the ice is one meter thick, and it could be –30°C. To catch fish, they use cheap monofilament gill nets, and we doubt they have proper licenses for this business. When we buy the fish they catch, we often ponder, “Are we supporting poaching, or are we helping people survive?”
When we participate in meetings about inland fisheries issues, we often hear things like “What is the importance of your small-scale negligible fisheries compared to bigger issues like water supply, irrigation, energy generation, and flood control?” This viewpoint shows the lack of understanding of the importance of inland fisheries, despite their significant current and historical role in Russian society.