New cases of ill fish in Murmansk Oblast?

Fri, 01/22/2016 - 09:00 By Arina Ulyanova, Murmansk State Humanities University

In the summer of 2015, Murmansk Oblast registered large outbreaks of a deadly epidemic among river salmon in the region. At the end of the year, regional fishermen faced another concern: new cases of fish disease had reportedly been found in one of the rivers of the Kola Peninsula. 

This time a would-be illness has spread among vendace. Photos of fish with strange spots on their skin were published in the social media in late November.

However, it's too early to speak about a new wave of epidemic, state local veterenarians. Shortly after the information about ill vendace was published in the media, the Veterinary Committee of the Murmansk Region on the 4th of December organized a meeting, where the situation with fish in rivers of the Kola Peninsula was discussed.

The veterinary authorities concluded that the statements about a new fish disease in the region were ill-founded. 

«It is necessary to keep in mind that photos published on the internet are not enough to make a reliable diagnosis. Still, one of the publications already used a photo of several vendace samples. In this case, one can assume the following: the exterior of these samples showed that this vendace was going to spawn. The location of dark shapeless formations on the widest part the body can be explained by injuries from fishing nets. The presence of such spots on the tailpiece may indicate that, at some point, the fish was trying to get free, actively using its tail», says a post on the official website of the Committee.

Later in December, during the final meeting in the Committee, representatives of the FGBU «Murmanrybvod» (a regional enforcement body in the field of fishing and preservation of aquatic biological resources) stated that they had not received any reports about ill fish from fishermen over the last two months. 

Masses of dead salmon in 2015
A huge outbreak of salmon disease was registered in the rivers of the Kola Peninsula in the summer of 2015. The first reports on fish with white spots on several parts of their bodies came in early July. After a while, local fishermen started to find dead fish. Investigations by experts resulted in an early diagnosis for Saprolegniasis.

Later in September, around 2,000 tons of dead salmon was found dumped in several parts in the region. Only in Molochny, a village south of Murmansk, three-meter-thick layers of half-rotten fish  were stored close to a local farm. 

Yuri Kitashin, the General Director of Russian Sea Aquaculture, admitted in a press conference that in early summer his company had ”a heightened level of fish death” on its two fish farms in Ura Guba, a fjord located about a hundred kilometers west of Murmansk city. However, the company does not take any responsibility for the fish dumping, as previously reported by the Barents Observer with reference to Blogger51

In October, two similar “graveyards” were located near the airport in Murmashi, wrote SeverPost

At the end of the year, in November, the regional government of Murmansk Oblast informed about the establishment of a staff, which will be responsible for the disposal of dead fish.

Almost 6 million on environmental protection
Murmansk Oblast annually spends 5.7 million rubles ($68,400) on environmental protection, shows Murmanskstat's data on environmental expenditures (2014). In comparison, Arkhangelsk Oblast spends 5.2 million rubles, while the Republic of Karelia spends 1.9 million rubles. The highest figures in Barents Russia can be found in the coal producing Republic of Komi (2,107 million rubles) and in Nenets AO (1,645 million rubles).

Investments in the basic capital of environmental organizations in the Murmansk Oblast (excluding small business enterprises), totaled 1,450 million rubles in 2014. This is almost three times as much as the year before (541.6 million). A substantial part of this amount, 1 320.2 million rubles, was allocated to protection and sustainable use of water resources.

In Arkhangelsk Oblast, investments in environmental protection made up 832.2 million rubles, of which 193.6 million went to protection of water resources. In the Republic of Karelia, investments totaled 223.2 million rubles, of which 190.9 million allocated to water resources. The Republic of Komi in 2014 invested 6,844 million rubles in environmental protection, and 391 million went to the protection of water resources.

The map visualization below shows the regional environmental protection figures in Barents Russia.

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