Poaching fishermen caught in waters of Riga Port

Every year, fishing of fish from the Salmonidae family is prohibited in Latvian rivers from October to December. To ensure that the respective species are protected, in rivers, where these fish spawn, including the River Daugava, inspections are performed.

As the Daugava forms part of Riga Port, the Port Police and inspectors of the State Environmental Service join forces to patrol port waters and ensure that the aforementioned fishing and angling ban is not violated.

Though the Port Police are primarily expected to ensure public order on water and on both banks of the Daugava by monitoring and controlling the movement of people, vehicles and cargo at the Port of Riga, it also supports the eradication of poaching.

“Suspicious bottles floating in the water, especially plastic bottles. Suspicious, because the water is flowing, but the bottles do not move,” explains Police Inspector Vilnis Puskuns, who has been with the Port Police since its inception. He admits that finding illegal gear requires a good eye and a lot of experience. Over the course of time, he has managed to find and seize various nets and parts thereof, as well as covered pots and a variety of self-made fishing gear.

“Usually, these inspections take place at night, when the possibility of finding such violations is higher,” explains Valdis Voins, the head of the Port Police. He underlines that several years of joint efforts have been successful, and as of late the situation has improved – the number of violations has decreased.

“We perform these inspections in spring and in autumn, when it is prohibited to fish,” informs Elmārs Brente, a State Environmental Service inspector. The Port Police and the SES also cooperate in other areas, for example, during joint monitoring of terminals and port operators.

According to Port Police statistics, during the last few years the Port Police has on the average prepared approximately 160 reports per year for various violations in the port waters and the surrounding land, of which at least a third concern illegal use of ownerless fishing gear, as well as angling violations in port waters on the Daugava.