A first-ever government sanctioned research team has been collecting fishery data in the National Park of the Tengis/Shishged River Basin, which is located on Mongolia’s north central border with Russia. The park, created in 2011, is home to several fish species that are near threatened, threatened or endangered.
The Siberian Taimen, which is the largest member of the salmonid family, is already on the Mongolian red list as being endangered. Anglers are required to release all taimen in the watershed, but poaching by local inhabitants is still common. Sein surveys between 1995 and 2009 indicate the number of taimen has declined and the size and weight of the remaining fish is lower.
The team’s task was to catch as many taimen as possible, tag them and take a scale and fin clip sample to determine age and genetic makeup. The work was sponsored by a specific initiative from the Mongolian-based ‘Save the Taimen’ organization for the Tengis-Shishged watershed. Save the Taimen is supported by Fly Shop Mongolia which supplied the guides, boats and a camp for our team. The US-based Taimen Fund cooperated with the project.
The ultimate goal of ‘Save the Taimen’ is to outfit five to 10 taimen with satellite tracking devices to determine where the fish spawn and winter over. These are the most vulnerable times in the taimen life cycle and hopefully when these areas are determined the park authorities will close them to fishing.
Mongolians see the taimen as a national treasure. In addition to being a major sponsor of the Save the Taimen initiative, Fly Shop Mongolia collects a USD 500 Conservation Fee from each angler it guides in the watershed. The fee goes directly into the initiative.
A Save the Taimen goal for 2020 is to outfit as many taimen as possible with satellite tracking devices to determine where the fish spawn and winter over. This is an expensive goal. A single satellite tracker could cost anywhere from $3,000 and up. Organisations or individuals interested in sponsoring a tracking device may be able to arrange to receive updates on their taimen’s travels. (boulder daily camera)