Illegal fishing rates down in Latgale

In the last few years illegal fishing rates have gone down in Latgale, and locals are more readily reporting lawbreakers to the authorities, say fishing inspectors. Latvian Radio's Renāte Lazdiņa looked into the tendencies of illegal fishing in Latgale - the region sometimes referred to as the land of blue lakes (zilo ezeru zeme) - on a story published Monday. 

While during the current spawning season salmon and salmonid fish are looked after in the coastal regions, fishing inspectors in the eastern region of Latgale have a lot on their hands as well. The fish with a spawning season there – vendaces and lavarets – cannot be fished until November 30. That's why raids are taking place almost daily at the lakes of Latgale, including the large Rāznas lake. 

Officially, vendaces, lavarets or smelts cannot be caught in fishing nets during the season. "We go to check [whether these sorts of fish are found in nets] when the fishermen are taking out their nets, when they go to the shore. If there are these fish found in the nets, they have to be set free," said Dainis Tučs, senior expert at the Nature Conservation Agency (DAP).

He said that this season there have not been any illegal fishermen caught with salmonid fish. However, fishing inspectors admit that the bulk of the work is still to come. 

"We have special fish in Latgale, such as vendaces, lavarets and smelts. These salmonid fish are to be specially protected, and they spawn just when it's getting cold," said Anda Zeize from the Latgale Regional Administration of the DAP.

She said that illegal fishermen are becoming better equipped, so nature inspectors cannot fall behind. That's why this year the regional inspectors have gotten their hands on new equipment.

"Earlier on inspectors usually sat in hiding and documented and caught violators like that. However we cannot be everywhere at once, as illegal fishermen know the spawning places. Then, thanks to support by the Fishing Fund, we have purchased very modern equipment that helps inspectors to work.

Powerful and well-build binoculars have been purchased for the inspectors, allowing them to see in twilight and dark, and there are powerful flashlights as well as detection devices," said Zeize.

Inspectors have seen that in the past few years fishing violations in Latgale are becoming much more rare. It can be explained with the extra controls and the huge fines.

For example, Dainis Tučs said an illegally caught 100-gram vendace amounts to a fine of €36, and the fine is five times as much during the spawning season. And not only institutions have helped reduce the number of illegal fishermen - locals are more readily reporting law violations as well.

Previously it was announced that the State Environmental Service (SES, Latvian VVD) has announced a tender for purchasing drones to fight illegal fishing

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