This series follows University of Montana graduate student Dan Bailey as he travels the wilds of Mongolia to survey and tag Taimen, the world’s largest trout. From the team’s remote field camp, Dan is posting to the Club EcoBlu blog as he assists with the Taimen Conservation Project . Taimen are highly endangered, have been known to grow to 6-ft long and more than 200 lbs. The information gathered will aid in drafting a conservation plan to protect this megafish. Trout Headwaters, Inc. is a sponsor of the project.
Here we are at the start of the 2012 Mongolian field season. As with any trip to Mongolia I am excited for the conservation work to come and of course the fishing to be had. This year has found us expanding our foreign angler education campaign to the Chinggis Khan International airport in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar. We have secured contracts to rent advertisement space in the international baggage claim to promote our taimen conservation message. This approach will allow us to target international anglers as they arrive in Mongolia. To be exposed to a taimen conservation message as one of the first images a foreign angler encounters will provide a clear and comprehensive message of taimen conservation in Mongolia.
Unfortunately, it is not all good news coming out of Mongolia regarding taimen conservation. This spring has found all of us who are involved with taimen conservation actively fighting against the introduction of taimen hatcheries in Mongolia. I am sad to say that a taimen hatchery is in the beginning stages of construction at the mouth of the Delger Murun River. This is the river where I have guided and worked for the last 6 years and is where we are currently conducting a population assessment on wild taimen numbers. This hatchery is not the only one proposed that I, and most taimen conservation organizations, believe will have devastating effects on wild taimen populations throughout Mongolia. Regrettably, these hatcheries have been promoted by the Taimen Conservation Fund (TCF), the only national taimen conservation organization. While these hatcheries have been supported by the TCF they have been vehemently opposed by taimen conservation organizations and taimen fly-fishing outfitters as a direct threat to wild and sustainable taimen populations.
The introduction of hatcheries could not have come at a worse moment. For the first time in Mongolia outfitters, international monetary funds, and taimen conservation organizations began to work together to promote a larger taimen conservation strategy. Each group has reached a level of comfort with the health and protection of the taimen fishery where they each have time and resources invested. The introduction of hatcheries has caused all groups to pull back and revert to the concept of protecting their own river and be damned with the rest. This concept cannot continue as it only results in the protection of several select rivers while allowing the vast majority of Mongolia’s wild taimen populations to be exploited and affected by unscrupulous outfitters, uneducated anglers, and hatchery-raised taimen. This is absolutely not the time to revert to these practices, we need to stand together as a unified group and oppose the damaging policy actions that wild taimen face in Mongolia.Tweet