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

Author: KRAIKOFSKY ALEXEI

The Don is one of the biggest rivers in Europe. Being about 1900 km. long and having the catchment area of about 420000 sq. km., the river has the average water discharge of about 900 m3 per second. In the downstream, the Don creates delta of about 540 sq. km. and inflows into the Azov Sea through numerous branches[1]. Some hydrologists even consider the Azov Sea itself as part of the Don river[2]. It’s no wonder that the Don influences the whole Azov Sea and especially the Gulf of Taganrog which forms a single whole with the Don delta from the environmental point of view.

This part of the Azov sea is quite shallow even in comparison with the rest of the sea, about 5 m. deep in average. The Don river makes the water in the Gulf quite fresh though salinity increases a bit from the East to the West[3] influencing the distribution of the fish fauna.

The environment of the area has always been important for the development of the local infrastructure. The Don provided connection between the Azov Sea and the inner Russia and as a result for centuries its downstream has been one of the most important strategic points of the area. The Russians fought with the muslims in the 16th, 17th and 18th cc., moving South towards the Azov sea. Initially this frontier zone has been occupied by the autonomous militarized communities of the Cossacks who escaped from the feudal state and settled on the big rivers like the Don. Step by step the Don cossacks became more and more controlled by the central Russian government and finally their territory became specific self-governed part of Russia known as “Don Cossack Host”. As the Russian expansion in the Azov region continued, the Don downstream was included into this territorial unit. Finally in the mid-18th c. this territory came under the full control of the Russian Empire[4].

The urban infrastructure in the area appeared as early as in the antiquity. The fotress of Azov has been the major local center before the 18th c., when the Russians built the port of Taganrog and later the city of Rostov-on-Don, one of the major urban centers of the Southern Russia[5]. The network of big and small ports has always depended on the environment but also shaped it to some extent. For instance the port authorities of all the harbours has been conducting a lot of groundworks changing the underwater relief in order to create and support the fairways[6].

The fish population of the Don downstream made this river one of the richest fishing areas in the Russian South. The river with the adjacent sea area has been for centuries one of the richest aquatories in terms of the sturgeons, locally known as the Red Fish, while now the stock of wild sturgeons in the area is almost extinct and the population is supported artificially[7].

The numerous representatives of less valuable fish species were locally called the White fish. This group of fauna historically included pike perch, bream, carp, sea roach etc. The life cycle of these fishes normally included spawning migrations upstream the Don, sometimes for hundreds of kilometers (the same is true for the Red fish) stressing the inseparable link between the marine and riverine environment of the Don area. Historically this fish population has been explored intensively both by the local population and visiting fishermen coming from the upstream zones[8]. As early as in middle of the 18th c. all the points suitable for fishing were controlled by the Cossacks – either from the Don or from the Dnieper[9]. Since that moment the fisheries in the area were mainly controlled by the Administration of the Don Cossack Host. The Cossacks used to protect their exclusive rights for fishing in conflicts with the peasants and other local inhabitants who didn’t belong to the priveleged Cossack community[10].

The Don estuary with the Gulf of Taganrog provided significant catches in the 19th c. The researchers estimated the total catches in the area in 1818 - 189 as 50 – 170000 tons, and a century late the catches have decreased at least by 10 times[11]. At the moment the overfishing due to significant illegal fisheries is a big problem both in the river and in the Gulf of Taganrog. In 2007 the biologists studied the fish population of the Gulf ofTaganrog and had to state that it is still quite rich and includes about 30 species of fish, though the combination of species changed in comparison to the historic times due to introduced fish species (transported in the Soviet time from the Far East) and these “newcomers” provided the major part of the biomass in the catches of the white fish (from 60 to 70%)[12].


[1] For more details, see V. A. Minoranskii Уникальные экосистемы: дельта Дона (природные ресурсы и их сохранение) [Unique ecosystems: the delta of the Don (natural resources and conservation)]. Rostov-na-Donu. 2004.. P. 6 – 7.

[2] See A.V. Starcev, B.D. Kalinkin Гидрологические и ихтиологические наблюдения в Таганрогском заливе и устье Дона. [Hydrological and ichthyological observations in the Taganrog Bay and the mouth of the Don.] Rostov-na-Donu. 2008. P. 15.

[3] See for details A. V. Starcev, S. S. Savickaja Современный видовой состав ихтиофауны и его сезонная дифференциация в восточной части Таганрогского залива и водотоке дельты Дона – Свиное Гирло [Modern species composition of fish fauna and its seasonal differentiation in the eastern part of the Gulf of Taganrog and in the watercourse of the Don delta - Pork Girlie]. http://www.ceemar.org/ceemar/bitstream/11099/1460/1/a15.pdf

[4] For more details see Ju. P. Tushin Русское мореплавание на Каспийском, Азовском и Черном морях (XVII век) [Russian sailing on the Caspian, Azov and Black Seas (XVII century)]. Moscow. 1978.

[5] See for details P.P. Filevskij История города Таганрога [History of Taganrog]. Taganrog. 1996.

[6] See 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.

[7] For historical data see A. N. Svetovidov Рыбы Черного моря [The Black Sea fishes]. Moscow, Leningrad. 1964.. P. 44 - 59. See also K.V. Dem'janenko Состояние популяций рыб семейства Acipenseridae в Азовском море [Status of populations of fish of the family Acipenseridae in the Sea of Azov]. Ribogospodars'ka nauka Ukraїni. № 3. 2011. P. 54 – 58.

[8] See for details 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.

[9] P.A. Avakov Описание рыболовецких селений и ватаг донских и запорожских казаков в северном Приазовье 1768 г. [Description of fishing villages and a troop of Don and Zaporozhian Cossacks in the northern Sea of Azov in 1768] Sіcheslavs'kij al'manah №7, 2014. P. 110. See also L.T. Tocenko География рыбопромыслового освоения Азовского бассейна в XVII-первой половине XIX вв. [Geography of the fishery development in the Azov basin in the XVII- the first half of XIX centuries. Istoricheskaja geografija Dona i Severnogo Kavkaza. Rostov-na-Donu. 1992 P. 116 – 117.

[10] A.V. Venkov. Рыбная ловля в дельте Дона и казачье-крестьянские противоречия [Fishing in the estuary of the Don and contradiction between Cossacks and peasants]. Vestnik Juzhnogo Nauchnogo Centra. Vol. 9, № 2, 2013, P. 80–84.

[11] A. R. Boltachjov, V. N. Eremeev. Рыбный промысел в Азово-Черноморском бассейне: прошлое, настоящее, будущее [Fishing in the Azov-Black Sea basin: Past, Present and Future]. Promyslovye bioresursy Chernogo i Azovskogo morej. Sevastopol'. 2011.P. 10.

[12] A.V. Starcev, B.D. Kalinkin Гидрологические и ихтиологические наблюдения в Таганрогском заливе и устье Дона. [Hydrological and ichthyological observations in the Taganrog Bay and the mouth of the Don.] Rostov-na-Donu. 2008. P. 55 - 57.


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. N. Svetovidov Рыбы Черного моря [The Black Sea fishes]. Moscow, Leningrad. 1964.

A. R. Boltachjov, V. N. Eremeev. Рыбный промысел в Азово-Черноморском бассейне: прошлое, настоящее, будущее [Fishing in the Azov-Black Sea basin: Past, Present and Future]. Promyslovye bioresursy Chernogo i Azovskogo morej. Sevastopol'. 2011.

A. V. Starcev, S. S. Savickaja Современный видовой состав ихтиофауны и его сезонная дифференциация в восточной части Таганрогского залива и водотоке дельты Дона – Свиное Гирло [Modern species composition of fish fauna and its seasonal differentiation in the eastern part of the Gulf of Taganrog and in the watercourse of the Don delta - Pork Girlie]. http://www.ceemar.org/ceemar/bitstream/11099/1460/1/a15.pdf

A.V. Starcev, B.D. Kalinkin Гидрологические и ихтиологические наблюдения в Таганрогском заливе и устье Дона. [Hydrological and ichthyological observations in the Taganrog Bay and the mouth of the Don.] Rostov-na-Donu. 2008.

A.V. Venkov. Рыбная ловля в дельте Дона и казачье-крестьянские противоречия [Fishing in the estuary of the Don and contradiction between Cossacks and peasants]. Vestnik Juzhnogo Nauchnogo Centra. Vol. 9, № 2, 2013, P. 80–84.

Ju. P. Tushin Русское мореплавание на Каспийском, Азовском и Черном морях (XVII век) [Russian sailing on the Caspian, Azov and Black Seas (XVII century)]. Moscow. 1978

K.V. Dem'janenko Состояние популяций рыб семейства Acipenseridae в Азовском море [Status of populations of fish of the family Acipenseridae in the Sea of ​​Azov]. Ribogospodars'ka nauka Ukraїni. № 3. 2011. P. 54 – 58.

L.T. Tocenko География рыбопромыслового освоения Азовского бассейна в XVII-первой половине XIX вв. [Geography of the fishery development in the Azov basin in the XVII- the first half of XIX centuries. Istoricheskaja geografija Dona i Severnogo Kavkaza. Rostov-na-Donu. 1992.

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.A. Avakov Описание рыболовецких селений и ватаг донских и запорожских казаков в северном Приазовье 1768 г. [Description of fishing villages and a troop of Don and Zaporozhian Cossacks in the northern Sea of ​​Azov in 1768] Sіcheslavs'kij al'manah №7, 2014.

P.P. Filevskij История города Таганрога [History of Taganrog]. Taganrog. 1996.

V. A. Minoranskii Уникальные экосистемы: дельта Дона (природные ресурсы и их сохранение) [Unique ecosystems: the delta of the Don (natural resources and conservation)]. Rostov-na-Donu. 2004.


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