Invasive species in Caspian Sea drive Iranian fishermen to bankruptcy
Azerbaijan, Baku, May 1/Trend M. Moezzi/
Despite government promises to help fight their decline, Iran's annual catch of Caspian Sea anchovy has plunged from 100,000 tonnes to 20,000 tonnes, the Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA) reports.
The Caspian's Kilka, a kind of anchovy, are being eradicated by the comb jellyfish. The invasive species has caused $98 million (USD) in damages to Iran's fisheries and driven 90 fishery cooperatives to bankruptcy because since 2001 the catch per fishing vessel has gone from 1000 tons a year to 180 tonnes.
Last year (Iran's solar year ended on March 19), 4500 tons of kilka were caught compared to 6400 tons the year before.
The comb jellyfish is native to the Western Atlantic coast along the United States and South America. It was first brought to the Black Sea in the 1980's in a ship's ballast water and migrated the same way to the Caspian in 1999.
Iranian fishermen also find themselves with the lack of customers for their kilka. Very little of the fish is consumed and Iran's Fisheries Organisation has failed to act, although it has promised to promote the fish.
The absence of kilka will affect other fish that feed on it, like the caviar producing fish in the Caspian.