[ATC7704]
Population is growing and [ignorantly] 'corrupting resource/environment potential critical to continuing human existence' faster than 'inevitable dirigiste heurism' [SCIENCE] is growing to contain that population and corruption.
(-from Human Nature and Continuing Human Existence)
July 4, 2007 All Things Considered, National public radio
Environment
Poaching in Far Eastern Russia Threatens Ecosystem

Gregory Feifer, NPR

Russia's untamed, Far Eastern peninsula of Kamchatka is one of the last great spawning grounds of Pacific wild salmon.
   But grinding poverty and corruption are feeding a culture of poaching that's endangering not only some salmon species, but also the region's entire ecosystem.

No Place on Earth like Kamchatka
Kamchatka is a spectacular land of active volcanoes and hot, spurting geysers. Rare Steller's sea eagles and the world's densest population of brown bears live in stunning landscapes of snow-peaked mountains and rivers.
   To the east of this isolated peninsula lies the Sea of Okhotsk.
   On the coast, murky waves lap the dark, volcanic sand of this barren beach, as warmly dressed fishermen in rubber boats cast nets into the water.
   They're catching halibut, but under the piles of halibut, you can glimpse something out of season and illegal to catch: wild sockeye salmon.

Map of Kamchatka


The isolated peninsula of Kamchatka is located in Russia's Far Eastern region. Lindsay Mangum, NPR
(More pictures below(*1)

A Culture of Poaching
Several miles inland up the slow-flowing Bystraya River, past flat tundra that stinks from piles of rotting fishheads, lies the crumbling village of Ust-Bolsheretsk. Here fishermen eat salted salmon and drink tea in trailers by the riverbank.
   Igor, who won't give his last name, says everyone on Kamchatka poaches fish.
   "There's no work here," he says. "Only fish. Everyone feeds his family however he can, and that's by catching fish. If you don't do it, you go hungry."
   Every year, millions of salmon fight their way up the Bolsheretsk and other rivers. When poachers deplete one species, they move on to another.
   Kamchatka's rich natural beauty starkly contrasts with its human poverty. On the eastern, Pacific coast, the decrepit capital Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky appears to have been forgotten by time. Crumbling, Soviet concrete-slab buildings line the lush hills dropping down to the water. The once-bustling port is now mostly idle and crammed with rusting ships and scrap metal. Around 20 fishing trawlers are moored out at sea, impounded for poaching.
   Regional officials say only 10 percent of the fish caught in and around Kamchatka is poached, and fishing department chief Alexander Krengel says the administration is tackling the problem.
   "This year, we've set up a headquarters to coordinate a crackdown on poaching by various law-enforcement agencies," Krengel says. "It's enabled us to stabilize the situation."
   Most Kamchatkans dispute the government's figures. Valery Vorobiev is the head of Akros, one of Kamchatka's largest fishing companies. He says criminal gangs poach at least half the fish sold from Kamchatka.
   "Poaching is ruinous for salmon," he says. "In Kamchatka alone, more than 100,000 tons of salmon are poached a year. And much of it is used only for caviar. The fish are slashed open and thrown away."
   Vorobiev says some salmon species have declined by half in recent years. Inland, criminal groups organize brigades of 15 to 20 men who are flown upriver by helicopter to poach. They're depriving Kamchatka's bears of their natural prey, forcing them to wander near human settlements to look for food.

A Corrupt Bureaucracy
Environmental activist Andrei Abikh says Kamchatka's industrial-scale poaching is only possible because of serious corruption among officials whose job it is to protect fish.
   "It's a racket that goes all the way to the top. Everyone wants a cut of the profits. It's gotten to the point where police, secret service, even judges are involved in poaching salmon from our rivers," Abikh says.
   In the town of Elizovo near the capital, fish vendor Vadim Chernov says 90 percent of salmon sold at the market is poached.
   "The industry could easily be legalized, it's just that that would eat into the authorities' profits from bribes and fines," Chernov says. "Most of our fish goes abroad, so locals are forced to poach, and we have no choice but to buy fish from them. That's just not right."
   Locals say as long as Kamchatka is run by a corrupt bureaucracy, the region's unique natural resources will continue to be plundered. Environmental experts say that could lead to collapse not only for Kamchatka's ecosystem, but also the Pacific's entire wild salmon population.


[TRANSCRIPT]
Poaching in Far Eastern Russia Threatens Ecosystem
July 4, 2007 from All Things Considered

ROBERT SIEGEL, host: You’ll need a passport and a lot else this summer if you’re among the visitors to one of the world’s great natural wonders. It’s Russia’s remote peninsula of Kamchatka on the country’s Far Eastern Pacific coast.
   NPR’s Gregory Feifer traveled nine time zones from Moscow to send back this report.

GREGORY FEIFER: It’s called the land of fire and ice. Kamchatka boasts nearly 30 active volcanoes, stunning snow-peaked mountains and a unique population of salmon, bears and other wildlife. There are also hot sulfurous geysers. Underground, magma heats water that shoots out of the ground in the peninsula’s Valley of the Geysers. It’s one of the biggest tourist draws on this 750-mile mostly pristine peninsula roughly the size of California. In early June, a huge mudslide buried part of the valley threatening to turn it into a big lake. Local geologist Udmala Asipenko(ph) says the mudslide has irrevocably changed the valley.

Ms. UDMALA ASIPENKO (Geologist): (Through translator) But it’s the normal geological process. You can’t talk about it as a good or bad thing. In any case, there are new geysers forming. It’s all part of a natural process of change.

FEIFER: There are other sites to see on Kamchatka such as swimming holes in the village of Paratunga, where locals and some of the 8,000 foreign tourists who come here each year, lull in hot thermal springs. Angela Tungki(ph) is visiting from Moscow with her 7-year-old daughter Katya(ph).

Ms. ANGELA TUNGKI (Tourist): (Speaking foreign language)

FEIFER: She says there’s no place like this in the world. In Soviet days, Kamchatka was a close military zone with a strategic submarine port. That helped preserve the region’s isolation. Even today, there’s only one main road leading up the peninsula and it isn’t even connected to the mainland. Among regular American visitors here today are bear hunters who pay $10,000 for each brown bear they kill. For others, there’s hiking, heliskiing on mountains without chairlifts and boating on the Pacific coast.

(Soundbite of boat motor)
I’m riding in a Zodiac dinghy along the coast of Kamchatka. The landscape is very luscious, very green. There are lots of rocks visible. It’s dark volcanic rock, of course. This land was formed through volcanoes and one would see snow- covered volcanoes in the distance, but it’s so foggy, you can only see about half a mile.

The weather is one of the biggest problems for tourists on Kamchatka. Many of the scenic sites here are accessible only by helicopters. They’re often grounded by rain and fog that can last for weeks. And there are other problems.

Helicopter rides cost hundreds of dollars, double the amount elsewhere in Russia because one company with the license to fly holds the monopoly. Most hotels are shoddy and overpriced. And just getting to Kamchatka is a trial. Flights from Anchorage, Alaska no longer operate. The easiest way to get here is to take the world’s longest domestic flight, nine hours from Moscow. Tourist company head Yevgeny Karatayev(ph) said the conditions here probably won’t change any time soon.

Mr. YEVGENY KARATAYEV (Tourist Company Owner): (Through translator) Kamchatka attracts a certain type of tourist who can afford to come here for the wilderness and is willing to put up with basic accommodations. It’s a limited number of people. If we were to build more hotels here, they’d just end empty.

FEIFER: Fishing makes up the bulk of Kamchatka’s economy. Many locals are poor and most of Kamchatka’s male population engages in poaching that conservationists say is threatening stocks of salmon, crab and other fish. Environmentalists are also concerned about pollution from mining in the north of the peninsula and the recent discovery of oil off its western coast. Also under serious threat is Kamchatka’s indigenous Itelmen culture long suppressed by the Soviet Union.

(Soundbite of woman singing)
FEIFER: At a recreation of a native dugout hut, Itelmen dressed in animal skins and beads perform songs originally sung by their nomadic hunter and fishermen ancestors. Today, they say, what little of the old culture has left helps make Kamchatka unique.

Gregory Feifer, NPR News.


[-back to options at the top(*1)]


A geyser in Kamchatka

Kamchatka is home to hot, spurting geysers and 29 active volcanoes. Getty Images
AFP
(*1) Fishermen on Kamchatka's western shore

Fishermen set to work at the Sea of Okhotsk on Kamchatka's Western shore. One fisherman says if they did not poach fish, they would go hungry.
Gregory Feifer, NPR

A rusting ship in the port of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky

The port of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on the Pacific side of the peninsula is filled with rusting ships and scrap metal.
Gregory Feifer, NPR

A fish market in the town of Yelizovo

A woman sells fish at a market in Yelizovo, near the capital of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Vendors say 90 percent of the fish they sell is poached.
Gregory Feifer, NPR
Godel's Proof and The Human Condition

[-back to options at the top(*1)]