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The fish population of the Azov Sea: The Kuban estuary    EN

Author: KRAIKOFSKY ALEXEI

The Kuban is one of the biggest rivers of the Russian South. Being about 860 km. long it has the catchemt area of 58000 sq. km. the river collects water from the Western part of the Caucasus and drops it into the eastern part of the Azov Sea forming vast and productive delta of about 4500 sq. km. The natural annual water discharche of the Kuban was about 12 km3 of water, and after the regulation works it decreased to the level of 9,5 km3. Consequently the ports situated in the area (Temriuk is the major one) belong to the so-called “river-sea system” and their environment is to a great extent defined by the interaction between the Sea and the river[1]. The instability of the water level is one of the most visible feature of the environment of the Kuban delta. Historic documents contain numerous data on the floods influencing the local life through centuries[2].

The fish population of the Kuban area has been for centuries one of the major environmenal resources. The sea shore near the Kuban delta for about 100 km. to the North from the Gulf of Temriuk consits of shallow firths (liman). This specific environment historically occupied about 150000 ha, while nowthe total square of the Kuban firths is about 126000 ha. The firths are exceptionally productive fishing areas where both feeding and spawning is possible[3] and the Kuban delta zone is considered as one of the basic areas for the fish population of the Azov sea as a whole[4].

The fish population of the Kuban delta includes all the major species of commercial fish living in the Azov Sea. In the first half of the 20th c. the biologists counted 60 species, now they are about 80 including the Red fish (sturgeons – Acipenseridae)[5]. This group of species historically formed the most valuable part of the catches in the area.

The Russians used to catch fish in the Kuban firths since the Middle Ages. After they moved to the North the area became of interest for the merchants of Genoa and in the 17th c. was controlled by the Ottomans who almost didn’t use the fish resources of the firths. The Cossacks from the Don and the Dnieper used to come for fishing despite the turkish resistance[6]. So in the late 18th c., when the Russian Empire conquered the area and the government decided to move the Cossacks from the Dnieper to the newly appropriated frontier region on the Kuban, the newcomers already had good experience of dealing with the local fish resources. The government organized the settlers Cossacks into the Black Sea Cossack Host (later – the Kuban Cossack Host), the autonomous militarized community that got control over the vast territory including the fisheries in the Azov sea and inflowing rivers[7].

All the major fishing grounds were divided into sections controlled by the Cossack authorities. The settlement of Achuevo situated in the downstream of the Protoka (the Northern branch of the Kuban) was known as the most productive ground for the Red fish. In 1830s it provided on average about 570 tons of Red fish, about 100 tons of caviar and about 400000 pieces of pike pearch per year[8]. It was by far more productive than any other point in the area. For instance the area of Taman provided in 1834 29 tons of the Red fish[9]. Almost all the fish (both Red and White) was salted or dried and transported to the inner Russia or international market through the local ports, first of all Temriuk.

The catches fluctuated and decreased through the 19th and 20th cc. because of the human pressure – overfishing, pollution ond the regulation of the Kuban river. In the late 19th c. the locals described “the old time” as the period of unbelievable abundance in comparison to what they had in that moment[10], but the situation nowadays, when the stirgeon population is mainly supported by the artificial breeding and about 80% of the catches is low-value fish[11] they would definitely consider as catastrophic.


[1] See for details A. K. Vinogradov, Ju. I. Bogatova, I. A. Sinegub Экосистемы акваторий морских портов Черноморско-Азовского бассейна (Введение в экологию морских портов). [Ecosystems of the Sea ports of the Black and Azov Sea basins. (Introduction into the ecology of the Sea ports). Odessa. 2012. P. 170 – 174.

[2] See for details D. V. Magrickij, A. A. Ivanov. Наводнения в дельте р. Кубани. [Flooding in the delta of the Kuban]. Vodnye resursy, 2011, Vol. 38, № 4, P. 1–20

[3] See G. A. Moskul, Ju. I. Kovalenko, N. G. Pashinova, O. A. Bolkunov. Современное состояние и перспективы рыбохозяйственного использования Азово-Кубанских лиманов. [Current state and prospects of fisheries use of the Azov-Kuban estuaries]. http://www.ceemar.org/dspace/bitstream/11099/1444/1/a12.pdf

[4] See A. S. Kuznecova Становление и развитие азовских рыболовных промыслов Кубани (XVIII-XX вв.). [Formation and development of Azov fisheries on the Kuban (XVIII-XX centuries)]. Slaviansk-na-Kubani. 2009. P. 24. For the basic environmental description of the Kuban firths see G. A. Moskul, Ju. I. Kovalenko, N. G. Pashinova, O. A. Bolkunov. Современное состояние и перспективы рыбохозяйственного использования Азово-Кубанских лиманов. [Current state and prospects of fisheries use of the Azov-Kuban estuaries]. http://www.ceemar.org/dspace/bitstream/11099/1444/1/a12.pdf

[5] The full list G. A. Moskul, Ju. I. Kovalenko, N. G. Pashinova, O. A. Bolkunov. Современное состояние и перспективы рыбохозяйственного использования Азово-Кубанских лиманов. [Current state and prospects of fisheries use of the Azov-Kuban estuaries]. http://www.ceemar.org/dspace/bitstream/11099/1444/1/a12.pdf P. 71 - 73.

[6] See A. S. Kuznecova Становление и развитие азовских рыболовных промыслов Кубани (XVIII-XX вв.). [Formation and development of Azov fisheries on the Kuban (XVIII-XX centuries)]. Slaviansk-na-Kubani. 2009. P. 24 – 25. See also M.I. Kumancov Возникновение и развитие рыболовства Северного Причерноморья. Часть 1. (от древности до начала XX в.) [The emergence and development of the Northern Black Sea fisheries. Part 1: (from ancient times to the beginning of the XX century.)]. Мoscow, 2011. P. 110-127.

[7] For the history of the Kuban Cossacks see for instance F.A. Shherbina, E.A. Felicyn. Кубанское казачество и его атаманы [Kuban Cossacks and their chieftains]. Moscow. 2007.

[8] See A. S. Kuznecova Становление и развитие азовских рыболовных промыслов Кубани (XVIII-XX вв.). [Formation and development of Azov fisheries on the Kuban (XVIII-XX centuries)]. Slaviansk-na-Kubani. 2009. P. 49.

[9] A. S. Kuznecova Становление и развитие азовских рыболовных промыслов Кубани (XVIII-XX вв.). [Formation and development of Azov fisheries on the Kuban (XVIII-XX centuries)]. Slaviansk-na-Kubani. 2009. P. 53.

[10] F.A. Shherbina, E.A. Felicyn. Кубанское казачество и его атаманы [Kuban Cossacks and their chieftains]. Moscow. 2007.. P. 71.

[11] G. A. Moskul, Ju. I. Kovalenko, N. G. Pashinova, O. A. Bolkunov. Современное состояние и перспективы рыбохозяйственного использования Азово-Кубанских лиманов. [Current state and prospects of fisheries use of the Azov-Kuban estuaries]. http://www.ceemar.org/dspace/bitstream/11099/1444/1/a12.pdf P. 74.


References

A. K. Vinogradov, Ju. I. Bogatova, I. A. Sinegub Экосистемы акваторий морских портов Черноморско-Азовского бассейна (Введение в экологию морских портов). [Ecosystems of the Sea ports of the Black and Azov Sea basins. (Introduction into the ecology of the Sea ports). Odessa. 2012.

A. S. Kuznecova Становление и развитие азовских рыболовных промыслов Кубани (XVIII-XX вв.). [Formation and development of Azov fisheries on the Kuban (XVIII-XX centuries)]. Slaviansk-na-Kubani. 2009

D. V. Magrickij, A. A. Ivanov. Наводнения в дельте р. Кубани. [Flooding in the delta of the Kuban]. Vodnye resursy, 2011, Vol. 38, № 4, P. 1–20.

F.A. Shherbina, E.A. Felicyn. Кубанское казачество и его атаманы [Kuban Cossacks and their chieftains]. Moscow. 2007.

G. A. Moskul, Ju. I. Kovalenko, N. G. Pashinova, O. A. Bolkunov. Современное состояние и перспективы рыбохозяйственного использования Азово-Кубанских лиманов. [Current state and prospects of fisheries use of the Azov-Kuban estuaries]. http://www.ceemar.org/dspace/bitstream/11099/1444/1/a12.pdf

M.I. Kumancov Возникновение и развитие рыболовства Северного Причерноморья. Часть 1. (от древности до начала XX в.) [The emergence and development of the Northern Black Sea fisheries. Part 1: (from ancient times to the beginning of the XX century.)]. Мoscow, 2011.


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