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Saturday, April 4, 2015

the salmons of Danube - shrinking hunting grounds !

Budapest  is the capital and the largest city of Hungary, and one of the largest cities in Central Europe.  Budapest became a single city occupying both banks of the river Danube with its unification in Nov 1873 of Buda and Óbuda, on the west bank, with Pest, on the east bank.  The river Danube flows  in Central and Eastern Europe - classified as an international waterway, flows southeast for 2,872 km (1,785 mi), passing through four capital cities before emptying into the Black Sea.

‘Salmon’  is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Other fish in the same family include trout, char, grayling and whitefish. Salmon are native to tributaries of the North Atlantic (genus Salmo) and Pacific Ocean (genus Oncorhynchus). Many species of salmon have been introduced into non-native environments such as the Great Lakes of North America and Patagonia in South America. Salmon are intensively produced in aquaculture in many parts of the world.  Typically, salmon are anadromous: they are born in fresh water, migrate to the ocean, then return to fresh water to reproduce.  The Danube salmon can reach the size of a man and live for 30 years - but its last hunting grounds in the Balkans are being threatened by a rash of dam-building, an interesting report in BBC states. 

"It's very fast, lean, and elegant. And very beautiful," says Ulrich Eichelmann. He might have been describing a racing car. In fact, the director of the environmental group Riverwatch is talking about a fish - Hucho Hucho in Latin, Huchen in German, often known as the Danube salmon in English because it was once found in much of the Danube basin.  But its main remaining refuge today is in the Balkans, in the streams and rivers which tumble down the mountains and twist through the valleys between Slovenia and Montenegro.  "We Europeans cry out with indignation about the plight of the last tigers in the wild in Asia, and demand efforts to save them," says Eichelmann, as we trudge though the wetland forest down to the shore of the River Sava in Slovenia. "But we seem blind to the threat to these last tigers of our own - the Danube salmon."

According to explains Steven Weiss, an American scientist based in Graz in Austria – the salmon fish is a good indicator of the health of our rivers,", he warns that building of new dams could wipe out many of the fish. They need need a lot of space, fast flowing clean water and a very specific habitat to spawn in order to maintain a self-sustaining population.  The ecologists, in alliance with the Slovenian Anglers Association,  are launching campaign to save the fish.  Save the Sava - the name of the river seems designed to fit the English verb.  Josef Fischer  has been releasing several thousand into the Danube, repopulating the river with a noble species which once migrated up and down it in large numbers. But the many hydroelectric dams built mostly in the 1950s and 60s destroyed their spawning grounds and turned the river into a succession of lakes.

On the River Sava, Weiss explains how salmon breed in the wild. The queen finds a section of riverbed she likes the look of, the king sidles alongside, they perform a dance together, sweeping away the fine grains of gravel to make a nest to lay her eggs. And as she does so, he sows his own seed over them like a sudden underwater cloud.  When its all over, she sweeps a fine film of sand over the eggs with her tail. A month or so later, small fish emerge. Princes and princesses of the Balkans.

Away, one of New Zealand's most exclusive food products, King Salmon, is making an impact in the United States market. The rare King Salmon species is farmed predominantly in New Zealand, with domestic producers turning out about 70 per cent of the world's supply. The luxury product has been awarded a "best choice" status by influential American food watchdog Sea Watch, which is part of the Monterey Aquarium in the US.  NZ King Salmon produces about 55 per cent of the country's salmon and about 40 per cent of the world's supply. The product is renowned for its high levels of healthy Omega-3s and superior culinary qualities. NZ King Salmon supplies hotels including the Waldorf Astoria in New York.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
23rd Mar 2015.


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