In recent decades, there has been a decrease in fish resources and the reduction or disappearance of a number of valuable species from the Dniester River. There is also a change in the structure of the fish population, the emergence and growth in the number of invasive fish species. Such changes are associated, first of all, with anthropogenic impacts on the ecosystem of the river - hydroconstruction, embankment of the banks and drainage of floodplains, the flourishing of poaching, as well as a decrease in the volume of stocking of fry carried out by environmental and fisheries agenties tothe river.
The project "Public assessment of poaching on the Dniester River" aims to involve the public in the process of monitoring and reducing the negative impact of poaching on fish stocks and biodiversity of the Dniester. The project is being implemented by the NGOs "Ecospectrum" (Bendery) in partnership with the International Association of River Keepers "Eco-TIRAS" (Chisinau) within the framework of the EU Confidence Building Measures Program implemented by UNDP with the financial support of the European Union. The project was implemented by groups of ichthyologists and hydrobiologists from Chisinau and Tiraspol with the involvement of relevant agencies and associations of amateur fishermen on the right and left banks of the Dniester. Project implementation period was May 2022 - May 2023.
Within the framework of the project, a public assessment of the scale of illegal fishing was carried out, both on the water and in the sale of river fish in markets on both banks of the Dniester. The monitoring of the facts of poaching on the Dniester was carried out by a team of Moldovan and Transnistrian ichthyologists in the area from Nemireuca/Grushka to Palanca/Nezavertailovca, including the Turunciuc branch.
From May 2022 to April 2023, 82 working trips to the Dniester River were carried out during which:
• 363 cases of violations of the rules of fishing and poaching were detected, including 148 cases on the right bank (284 violations according to the data of the Ecological Inspectorate of the Republic of Moldova) and on the left bank - 215 (414 violations according to the data of the Pridnestrovian Fisheries Inspectorate).
• 270 cases of selling poached fish in the markets of Chisinau and Tiraspol were recorded, including 178 on the right bank and 92 on the left bank. Cases of selling river fish in the markets are regular.
• According to experts and according to the legislation, the total damage to the fish stocks of the Dniester is 101.471.500 MDL (€5.217.634) on the right bank and 2.314.800 rubles (€128.600) on the left bank.
Monitoring of poaching on the Dniester was carried out with the support of the fishery agencies of both banks.
The project made it possible to analyze the legislation in the context of their effectiveness in preventing poaching, as well as to develop proposals aimed at preserving and restoring the fish stocks of the Dniester. These proposals take into account both legislative and institutional measures, including:
- differentiation of the timing of the spawning ban for different fish species;
- expanding the rights of fish inspectors in terms of checking the origin of fish in transport and trade;
- strengthening the role of public inspectors;
- increasing the organizational capacity of fish protection agencies;
- strengthening the role of ichthyological councils under the environmental agencies of both banks;
- improvement of transboundary cooperation with Ukraine in protection of fish resources.
The implementation of the project activities made it possible to establish cooperation and effectively inform the relevant agencies and associations of amateur fishermen about the problem of poaching on the Dniester, as well as submit proposals to improve the efficiency of fish protection measures.
So, on November 9, 2022 at the Transdniester University of T.G. Shevchenko (Tiraspol) a round table was held on the topic “Public monitoring of poaching on the Dniester as one of the ways to preserve and restore the fish stocks of the Dniester”. The event was attended by representatives of environmental departments, fisheries inspection, the scientific community and associations of amateur fishermen from both banks of the Dniester. As part of the round table, a presentation of the project "Public Assessment of Poaching on the Dniester" was held, as well as the results of monitoring the facts of poaching on the Dniester in May-October
During the round table, the issues of the need to harmonize fishing rules and lists of fish species prohibited for catching on both banks of the Dniester, the need to expand the powers of fish inspections, in terms of carrying out control measures in places where caught fish are sold were discussed. It was also noted the need to strengthen the responsibility of amateur fishermen for compliance with the rules of fishing and the differentiation of fines in case of their violation. The participants of the round table supported the proposal to restore the institute of public fish inspectors, as well as the need to strengthen scientific monitoring of fish populations by resuming control catches for scientific purposes, etc.
In order to raise the awareness of amateur anglers about the rules of fishing and responsibility for their violation, the project team prepared and published guides for amateur anglers in Romanian and Russian. Electronic versions of these publications will also be posted on the websites of the environmental agencies of both banks. More detailed information about the project activities and their results will be presented within the framework of the final round tables "Cooperation of the public of both banks of the Dniester in the conservation and restoration of fish stocks", which will be held on May 19, 2023 (Chisinau, Stefan cel Mare boulevard 162, Ministry of the Environment of Moldova, 10th floor, hall 1015, beginning at 10.00) and May 26, 2023 (Tiraspol, 107 October
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