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Rostov on Don


The fish population of the Azov Sea    EN

Author: KRAIKOFSKY ALEXEI
The fish population of the Azov Sea: The Kuban estuary EN
The fish population of the Azov Sea: The Don estuary EN
The fish population of the Azov Sea: Caviar and other side products EN
The fish population of the Azov Sea: Sturgeons EN
The fish population of the Azov Sea: The Strait of Kerch – environmental EN

Azov Sea is quite a specific natural object due to its unique geographic position. Being situated in the North-Eastern corner of the Black Sea area, the Azov Sea is connected with the Black Sea only through the narrow Strait of Kerch. Thus it is the most continental sea on the Globe considering the distance between the sea and the Ocean.

The sea is rather small (less than 40000 sq. km.) and very shallow (the most shallow in the world) with the average depth of 7 – 8 m., and the maximum of 13 m. The Sea water is strongly influenced by the inflowing rivers including such big and affluent as the Don and the Kuban. As a result the water salinity is very low (though it increases in the 20th c. because of the decrease of the Don water discharge) and the water biota is quite specific for the marine environment.

Significant seasonal fluctuations of the water temperature are another peculiarity of the Azov Sea environment. In summer the shallow Sea is warmed up rapidly by the Sun while in winter it cools down and the moving ice creates problems for both fishing and shipping.

The fish population of the Azov Sea is very exceptional. In the ealry 21st c. the Sea accommodated 117 species and subspecies of fish[1] though in the periods of high water salinity the fish migration from the Black Sea increases biodiversity of the Azov Sea to 140 – 150 species and subspecies of fish[2]. Up to the second half of the 20th c. the Azov Sea has been the most productive aquatory in the world providing from 70 to 85 kg. of catch from each ha. of the water square[3].

The presence of sturgeons (Acipenseridae) locally known as the Red fish in the specific combination of catches made Azov Sea one of the most valuable fishing regions in the world. Beluga sturgeon (Huso huso), Russian sturgeon (Acipenser gueldenstaedtii), stellate sturgeon (Acipenser stellatus) and sterlet (Acipenser ruthenus) provided high quality market commodities including caviar and fish glue.

Other commercial species of fish were traditionally included into the group of White fish. The most important species of this kind are pike pearch (Sander lucioperca), bream (Abramis brama), sea roach (Rutilus heckelii), Azov herring (Alosa maeotica) and others. Both groups of commercial fish were highly demanded on the market since the ancient time. The archaeological and historical data on the delivery of fish from the Azov Sea is known for the Antiquity as well as for the Middle Ages. In the 16th – 18th cc. the fish resources of the Azov Sea became one of the driving forces for the Russian expansion into the area that finally resulted with the incorporation of the Azov Sea shore into the Russian Empire[4]. In the middle of the 19th c. the catches in the Eastern part of the Sea were estimated as 170 – 300000 metric tons including about 16000 tons of Red fish[5].

In the 19th and 20th cc. the fish fauna of the Azov Sea decreased strongly. Firstly overfishing and later in 1950s the regulation of the flow of the Don and the Kuban in fact stopped the natural reproduction of the Red fish and now it is supported by artificial breeding[6]. The populations of the White fish also decreased strongly though the Sea is still quite productive feeding area due to good insolation of water rich with all kinds of plankton[7].


[1] A. R. Boltachjov, V. N.Eremeev Рыбный промысел в Азово-Черноморском бассейне: прошлое, настоящее, будущее. in Промысловые биоресурсы Черного и Азовского морей (Fisheries in the Black Sea region: past, present, future. commercial bioresources in the Black and Azov Seas) Sevastopol. 2011P. 9.

[2] V.A. Demchenko. Трансформация ихтиофауны Азовского моря в условиях изменения климата и возможные социально-экономические последствия (Transformation of the fish fauna of the Azov Sea in the context of climate change and the possible socio-economic consequences). Bіologіchnі sistemi. Vol. 4. Is. 4. 2012. P. 428.

[3] A. R. Boltachjov, V. N.Eremeev Рыбный промысел в Азово-Черноморском бассейне: прошлое, настоящее, будущее. in Промысловые биоресурсы Черного и Азовского морей (Fisheries in the Black Sea region: past, present, future. commercial bioresources in the Black and Azov Seas) Sevastopol. 2011. P. 9.

[4] 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.

[5] A. R. Boltachjov, V. N.Eremeev Рыбный промысел в Азово-Черноморском бассейне: прошлое, настоящее, будущее. in Промысловые биоресурсы Черного и Азовского морей (Fisheries in the Black Sea region: past, present, future. commercial bioresources in the Black and Azov Seas) Sevastopol. 2011; P. 10.

[6] See for details 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..

[7] See for details E.I. Studenikina. Характеристика кормовых ресурсов прибрежных акваторий Азовского моря (Characteristics of forage resources in the coastal waters of the Azov Sea). Voprosy rybolovstva, 2008, Vol. 9. P. 764 - 771


References

A. R. Boltachjov, V. N.Eremeev Рыбный промысел в Азово-Черноморском бассейне: прошлое, настоящее, будущее. in Промысловые биоресурсы Черного и Азовского морей (Fisheries in the Black Sea region: past, present, future. commercial bioresources in the Black and Azov Seas) Sevastopol. 2011.
V.A. Demchenko. Трансформация ихтиофауны Азовского моря в условиях изменения климата и возможные социально-экономические последствия (Transformation of the fish fauna of the Azov Sea in the context of climate change and the possible socio-economic consequences). Bіologіchnі sistemi. Vol. 4. Is. 4. 2012.
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.
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.
E.I. Studenikina. Характеристика кормовых ресурсов прибрежных акваторий Азовского моря (Characteristics of forage resources in the coastal waters of the Azov Sea). Voprosy rybolovstva, 2008, Vol. 9. P. 764 - 771


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