Sockeye spawn in the Kamchatka© Igor Shpilenok

Kamchatka Watershed Work Honored

Kamchatka Watershed Work Honored

Bolshaya community on Kamchatka recognized as finalist for international RiverPrize.

Wild Salmon Center's Leila Loder and Saving Salmon Together President Sergei Vahkrin
At the 2013 RiverPrize award ceremony in Australia, WSC’s Leila Loder and “Saving Salmon Together” President Sergei Vahkrin on behalf of Kamchatka’s public salmon council were recognized for their important conservation work on the Bolshaya River | © Wild Salmon Center

In 2013 the Bolshaya River in the Kamchatka Peninsula was named one of four finalists for the Thiess Riverprize—a globally recognized award for outstanding achievement and excellence in watershed management sponsored by the Australia-based International RiverFoundation. The Wild Salmon Center has been working with the Kamchatka nonprofit organization called Saving Salmon Together to restore and protect the Bolshaya River.

The Bolshaya River’s highly productive wild salmon runs once fueled a multi-million dollar salmon industry, provided thousands of jobs, and sustained the economic and social livelihood of dozens of regional communities. Over a span of about 30 years, however, industrial-scale poaching decimated salmon runs and it became clear the community would need to mobilize before the fishery collapsed completely.

With support from the Wild Salmon Center, local citizens formed Kamchatka’s first public salmon council. The council is made up of citizens, indigenous communities, commercial fishermen, scientists, tourism operators, educators, and municipal governments. Together, they’re committed to restoring the Bolshaya River’s habitat and eliminating large-scale poaching to bring back the once-prolific salmon runs.

Aerial shot of the Bolshaya River, Russia
Bolshaya River, Russia
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