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The right to fish in the Kamchatka region, Russian Federation

The Itelmen are a small indigenous group in Kovran, to the West of the Kamchatka peninsula in the Far East region of Russia. Their right to fish is undermined by commercial fishing companies.


Inhabitants of the Itelmen village Kovran in Kamchatka Krai objected in 2008 to the industrial fishery on the Kovran river. The Itelmencouncil Tkhsanom appealed to the Association of Indigenous Peoples ofthe North, Siberia and the Far East for help. The massive fishing will drain the stock of smelt fish. In March of 2008 the Kamchatka Minrybprom (Fishery Ministry) considered that the industrial fishing limits on the ovran river were possible. But a month later Roskomrybolovstvo, the Russian Fishery Committee made a competition for fishing sitdes distribution [1]. Often the indigenous  rights to  fishing  resources in    Kamchatka   are   violated    by   the government  or  commercial companies  who   grab  the   traditional   indigenous peoples’  fishing grounds,  practise  an inequitable     distribution     of    fishing  quotas   which  favours   big   business, and   develop   unfair  legislation   that  restricts 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:The right to fish in the Kamchatka region, Russian Federation
Country:Russian Federation
State or province:Kamchatka region
Location of conflict:Kovran village
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Aquaculture and fisheries
Specific commodities:Fish
Tourism services
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Although the federal decree of 2009 marked the whole Kamchatka region as one for traditional indigenous living and nature use, the big commercial fishing companies have complaint to the Kamchatka authorities upon which the authorities have written an official petition to the federal government to exclude southern regions of Kamchatka from this decree. They have claimed that they are the “authorized” users of smelt fish there, as they had won the commercial tenders organized in the rivers since 2008. They claimed that they are the ones to contribute to the regional economy and budget. Yet, the authorities have been hesitant to change the list in the decree so far, in the face of indigenous people’s rightful claims and resistance.

Type of populationRural
Affected Population:3000
Start of the conflict:01/01/2003
Relevant government actors:The Federal Agency for Fisheries
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:WWF Russia
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups

Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Migration/displacement
Negotiated alternative solution
Proposal and development of alternatives:Self-governance by indigenous peoples Itelmen
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Despite the fact that Itelmen have been successfully self-organizing for years by establishing their own fishing enterprise, commercial fishing companies have been involved in ocean and resource grabbing, sometimes also backed by official authorities. The community continues to suffer from loss of livelihood and traditional way of living. There are small improvements in the legislation (or implementation of legislation), yet, commercial fishing companies are lobbying public authorities by pointing out to the oil resources that the region has. In the region, fishing quotas are often allocated exclusively to commercial fishers, and the indigenous peoples can only catch fish for subsistence.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Brian Thom, Tatiana Degai, B. Colombi, . Bringing Indigenous Kamchatka to Google Earth: Collaborative Digital Mapping with the Itelmen Peoples. Article in Sibirica 15(3):1-30 · December 2016

UNESCO, The Itelmen, in Fishermen, Hunters and Herders of Kamchatka and North-East

Russia '
[click to view]

[1] Kamchatka Itelmen People Object to Industrial Fishery, 23 April 2008
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[2] Country of Volcanoes: For the indigenous peoples of the Kamchatka Peninsula, the ‘fish province’ of the Rssian Federation, fighting for their rights to access fishing resources is crucial. August 2016.
[click to view]

Russia bans indigenous peoples' traditional fishing, 2016
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Redefining Subsistence Fisheries in a Changing World: Indigenous Fisheries Issues in the Russian Far East
[click to view]

Land Rights for the Itelmen! Time for Moscow to put legislation protecting the indigenous inhabitants of Siberia into effect
[click to view]

Other documents

Source: Berezhkov [2]
[click to view]

Meta information
Last update30/01/2020
Conflict ID:3431
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