On September 14, hydrobiologists and hydrochemists from the Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IO RAS), local divers and divers, as well as members of the public went to an independent research expedition to study network pollution on Lake Baikal within the framework of the Baikal Without Fishnets project in the area of the village Listvyanka. The field organizer of the expedition was Alexander Krasovsky, the head of the the Irkutsk Regional Environmental Non-governmental organization «Depth of responsibility» and the author of the idea of the Baikal Without Fishnets project.
The problem of sunken fishing nets (abandoned, lost and otherwise abandoned fishing gear) is acute all over the world. Sunken nets, having sunk to the bottom, continue the so-called «phantom fishing»: the inhabitants of the underwater world fall into the nets and die as a result. Rotting processes begin, which lead to the development of harmful algae — spirogyra and cyanobacteria — that poison the water. Thus, «phantom fishing» causes economic and environmental damage.
To date, there is no data on the pollution of Lake Baikal by sunken fishing nets, as well as on the consequences to which such pollution leads. According to divers and divers, the shallow waters of Lake Baikal are no exception in the context of global problems of pollution of water bodies by fishing gear.
The purpose of the field part of the Baikal Without Fishnets project is to obtain objective data on the state of the water area of Lake Baikal for littering with sunken fishing nets. The second stage of the expedition will pass through the places of the greatest littering that were identified during the first stage of the expedition, and will also cover the north of Lake Baikal.
The tasks of the second stage were somewhat expanded compared to the first. In addition to identifying the places of accumulation of nets, entering this information on the map, as well as raising them to the surface and transmitting them to the competent authorities, sampling water and biomaterials from the surface of the nets for study on board by hydrobiologists from the IO RAS and for sending them to the laboratory of the St. Petersburg Scientific Research Center for Environmental Safety of the RAS, water studies will also be performed by hydrochemists of the IO RAS and fragments of sunken nets will be selected for toxicological analysis to a local laboratory.
After receiving a map of network pollution, the final results from scientists, comparing the data with regulatory measures, we will be happy to announce our conclusions on the Baikal without Networks project.
We remind you that the Baikal Without Networks project is implemented in partnership between the scientific institute-IO RAS, the Irkutsk non-profit organization – Irkutsk Regional Environmental Non-governmental organization «Depth of responsibility», and Lake Baikal Foundation. The project is being implemented thanks to the financial support from the partners of Lake Baikal Foundation — Henkel Company and the World Around You Foundation of the Siberian Wellness Corporation, as well as thanks to the victory of Lake Baikal Foundation in the grant competition for non-profit organizations «Support Will Come», held jointly by Tinkoff Bank and the Foundation «Help Needed».