Kamchatka, Russia | Where the Salmon Rule, National Geographic Magazine: Poachers Watch Wardens Burn Caviar Facility

Poaching is the biggest threat to salmon in Russia – enforcement is virtually non-existent. Here, two poachers stand by and watch as anti-poaching wardens torch their caviar-processing facility. This is a small camp with an area for fishing equipment and a small processing area surrounded by barbed wire to keep out the bears.  There is a multi-trunked tree that has been cut up to create a stand for the caviar screens that are used to break thru the connective tissue and separate individual eggs.  But all in all there is only about 200kg of caviar here. An MI-8 can carry two tons of caviar and most poachers who pay for these expensive rides in and out want to fill the helicopter.  A ride in is about $10,000 and to get back out a month later you have to pay that much again. The poachers know not to bring identity papers because if they are caught, fish inspectors usually don’t have the ability to take them back for prosecution. If passports are found, they can be used to prosecute the poachers in absentia.  The wardens decide to destroy the caviar and fishing tent areas. They leave the sleeping area because the helicopter may not be back for the poachers for some time.  They figure this will cost the poachers about $25,000 US, and having little or no working capital might make it too difficult for them to come back to do this next year. 

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