Fishing with drift nets is better know as “walls of death” and so there was a lengthy campaign by fishermen and politicians in Kamchatka as well as local organizations including WWF-Russia. As a result of such protest Putin has proposed to outlaw drift nets, which are used to catch fish migrating in open sea. Each net can be several kilometres long and their use results in a large bycatch of sharks, turtles, seabirds and marine mammals which are usually thrown back dead into the ocean.
In 2002 UN has banned large-scale ocean drift netting in international waters and near-shore drift netting is carefully regulated in US and EU waters. In the Russian Far East two kinds of ocean drift net fishing exist: Japanese, in accordance with the bilateral agreement with Russia, and the so-called “scientific” drift netting. Over the past three months WWF-Russia, together with the Kamchatka coalition “Save the Salmon Together”, has collected signatures in support of a ban on drift net fishing.
It is said that the Kamchatka coastal fishermen, including indigenous people, have been fighting for several years for a ban on drift net fishing. According to the press service of the Kamchatka Parliament (Duma), Prime Minister Putin has given orders for documents to be prepared on the complete ban of drift nets in Russian waters.
Konstantin Zgurovsky, Head of WWF-Russia Marine Programme, informed that they have welcome the proposal as they consider ocean drift netting to be environmentally dangerous and there are better ways of catching fish. Another consequence of drift net fishing is that the nets become a barrier for fish on their way from the ocean to the rivers to spawn, thus depriving local fishermen of their potential catch.