In the far eastern Russian region of Kamchatka, where 29 active volcanoes have earned it a reputation as a spectacular land of fire and ice, fishermen were recently recognized for their long history of sustainable salmon fishing when they won the right to continue their trade in the region.
A group from the Itelmen community, the original inhabitants of this peninsular, formed the Terra Madre Kamchatka Salmon Fishermen food community a few years ago to bring together fishers who are committed to continuing this sustainable wild harvest. Today they also cooperate with authorities, following special permits that allow them to fish a certain quantity of salmon using specific techniques.
However, this year has been crucial for fishing communities across the region, with the local authorities announcing a 20-year plan that redistributes the fishing zones between the indigenous groups. More than half of the local communities did not receive any fishing rights, and have been left without an autonomous way to support themselves.
Thanks to their traditional fishing practices and the continuity of fishing Lake Bolshoje Sarannoj, the Kamchatka Salmon Fishermen did obtain permission to continue their trade, which not only provides a livelihood for them but is a way of life. The community here is founded almost entirely on fishing and hunting, and being able to continue the salmon fishing means the continuation of many other aspects of the Itelmen tradition and culture.
To ensure younger generations are involved in this process, and understand the important implications of the salmon fishing, the Kamchatka Convivium, in collaboration with the Pacific Centre for the Protection of the Environment and Natural Resources, is organizing the “Guardians of Wild Salmon” summer camp, which will involve the youth of the community and visitors from the rest of the peninsula.
For more information:
Slow Food Kamchatka Convivium Leader