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15 Jul, 2007 13:46

Fish need help in Astrakhan

Overfishing, poaching, pollution and weather conditions – all of these factors are contributing to a decrease in certain species of fish in Russia's Volga river. Some people in the Astrakhan region are working hard to save fish that become stra

Waking up at the crack of dawn, a group of Astrakhan students are spending their summer holidays working. Hundreds of volunteers are braving the hot sun to help save young fish that get stranded on their way from one reservoir to another.

Across 25,000 hectares, in countless creeks, channels and even puddles of the Volga Delta, fish life is in full swim.

During the spring tide, Astrakhan's fish spawn there. But now the level of water is decreasing, and the channels, which connected the small lakes, have dried up. As a result, reservoirs have become separated from each other, and while some of the baby fish made it back to the river, others are stranded. This year, their number stands at an estimated billion – and they all need, quite literally, a helping hand.

But it's not just the baby fish that need help – thick reeds stop the big ones from being able to move through the channels. This year, the fishing industry in the region received special mowing machines, which help clear the clogged channels.

Fishing is one of Astrakhan's main industries – 40,000 tonnes of fish is expected this year alone. And locals know the number of fish they catch each year is directly related to the work they do to save them.