Nornickel, the largest producer of high-grade nickel and palladium in the world, has replenished the Yenisei River with 200,000 Siberian sturgeon fry at Prutovsky shallows, close to Yeniseisk, a town in Krasnoyarsk Krai. This was part of the wider Nornickel’s fish restocking programme that was instigated based on scientific recommendation and aims to restock several breeds of fish, including sturgeon, grayling and char. The programme pertains to the company’s mitigation efforts of reducing Nornickel pollution, which is inherent to metallurgical production.
Nornickel accomplished this endeavour together with Maltat LLC, a fish-breeding corporation located in the Balakhta district. Maltat bred the sturgeon fry for the current restock. Two establishments have worked together since 2016: throughout this period, they have released more than 1.2 million sturgeon fry, with a record number of 475,000 fry entering the Yenisei solely in 2018. Nornickel, whose major operation facilities are based in the city of Norilsk, not far from the Yenisei river, invested approximately 45 million roubles for this fish restocking project.
As the anthropogenic damaging effects on biodiversity continue to alter river ecosystems, artificial fish restocking has become fundamental to maintain fish populations and save biodiversity of the rivers. Fish restocking programmes usually target sturgeon species as this fish is currently endangered and listed in the Red Book. Over the past century, hundreds tons of sturgeon have been fished. Its population is recovering at a very slow pace regardless of the fishing ban in place.
Norilsk pollution bears its impact on the Yenisei biodiversity as well. To rectify these effects, Nornickel initiated various biodiversity activities, including fish restocking programme. Company strongly adheres to curtailing the negative influence of its operations on the environment. Its 2021 environmental strategy covers all major areas of environmental impact, including:
● climate change;
● air pollution;
● water pollution;
● waste and tailings management;
● soil restoration;
● biodiversity preservation.
Yuri Semenov, the Head of the Industrial Ecology Department of the Nornickel’s Polar Branch, stated that environmental protection and securing biodiversity, including wildlife diversity, is a crucial priority for Nornickel. He added that, in all realms of the company’s operations, Nornickel undertakes significant efforts to preserve unique flora and fauna species. “Today’s release of sturgeon fry into the Yenisei river is an eloquent example of this,” – Mr Semenov said.
Sergey Shakhmatov, the Co-Chairman of the Russian Green Party and prominent Krasnoyarsk eco-activist, confirmed that the recent scientific expedition depicted detrimental effects of human activity on fish biodiversity and population in the Yenisei. He said that Nornickel’s initiative is not only timely but also extremely important to preserve biodiversity of the river.