Russian partners earn new sanctions against rogue gold mining company on Langeri River.
Our Russian partners Sakhalin Environment Watch have won new court sanctions against illegal gold mining on the Langeri River, thanks to damning satellite imagery.
The imagery, presented in a Sakhalin Island district court this spring, shows nearly 15 acres of illegal clearcuts and an illegal side channel carved beside a tributary of the Langeri by Vostok-2, a local company.
The highly productive Langeri is home to native and endangered Sakhalin taimen of 6-foot-long fame, and the river hosts a rich commercial salmon fishery run by some of our close collaborators.
The district court ruled in late April that Vostok 2 had no permits for its recent land and river modifications; the company was ordered to halt operations on that section of the Langeri and to remediate its damage by August of 2017.
Vostok 2 has a history of poor stewardship on the Langeri. A court issued another ruling to stop destructive operations on the river last year. And throughout its operations on 24 miles of riverfront land spanning 8,400 acres, Vostok-2 has completed very little remediation. Sakhalin Environment Watch director Dmitry Lisitsyn calls the areas of operation “reminiscent of a moonscape.”
Floods of toxic tailings have scoured the river of spawning beds and recent fish surveys have found virtually no juveniles in that stretch of river.
The mining actions are of special concern to Wild Salmon Center collaborator Vladimir Smirnov and his fishermen’s association on the Langeri. WSC has worked with Smirnov to improve fishing practices and market opportunities for the Langeri pink salmon fishery.
The Langeri River is one of several collaborations between US and Russian wildlife agencies outlined in the Area 5 Working Group, signed in May, 2016. WSC will continue to support Russian Academy of Sciences research to understand the abundance and productivity of this salmon stronghold.