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Number of poachers in Lithuania cut in three


In 2013, the Ministry of Environment played an active role in the fight against poachers who violate laws, fishing and hunting rules and damage nature. Poachers were caught by environmentalists during raids, reported by socially responsible and concerned people, some were given away by their gullibility in selling the illegal catch.

Top offenders

Higher fines for damage caused to game entered into force on 15 January 2013 and to fish stocks on 1 February 2013. Last year, environmentalist had around 3,400 confrontations with poachers and imposed fines for the total amount of over LTL 446,000. The amount already recovered is LTL 208,000.

In three quarters of last year, civil actions filed for the damage caused to animal resources were worth over LTL 810,000.

The most serious damage valued at LTL 103,170 was caused by a poacher who used a catcher for migrating eels. He illegally caught 95 eels. This resident of Švenčionys district was caught for the fifth time for various failures to comply with the fishing rules.

Another poacher tempted by a large catch caused damage of over LTL 72,000 to fish stocks. He was apprehended by the officers of the Vilnius Regional Environmental Department on the first day of the Salmon 2013 campaign. He illegally caught 35 salmonidae offspring.

Hunting poachers also caused serious damage to natural resources. In Kaunas district, a man illegally caught a gravid roe using a loop, poached one hide of female roe, one hide of male roe and three roe legs. Damage to nature was estimated at over LTL 21,000.

Another poacher in Biržai district caught a baby moose and caused damage of almost LTL 12,000. Similar damage (over LTL 10,000) was inflicted by a person who caught a gravid boar in Trakai district.

Commercial fishermen also engaged in illegal practices

In July 2013, officers of the Live Nature Protection Inspection of the Utena Regional Environmental Department revealed an offence committed by Litbana UAB during commercial fishing operations at Drūkšių Lake. The offenders fished on rest days, in violation of the established procedure and caught one pike, 32 bream and 8 tench. The estimated damage to fish stocks was over LTL 9,000.

At the end of October 2013, officers of the Klaipėda Regional Environmental Department discovered two rows of commercial fishing nets in the prohibited area of 2 km between Klaipėda and Skirvytė. Nets were placed one next to another. Both rows contained about 580 metres of netting. Although placed in the prohibited area, both rows were flagged. Officers managed to find the required seals within one row only and in its middle rather than the end.

It was obvious that the nets of one row had not been checked for a long time and were full of weeds. They contained only several pieces of rotten fish. Nets in the other row contained much more fish. Some fish, although injured, were still alive, while others started rotting a long time ago. In total, environmentalists found 5 sea trout, 1 bass, 3 vimba, 1 zander, 1 asp, 2 cod, 1 sturgeon, 2 bream as well as a young grebe in the nets of this row. The offenders who used commercial fishing nets will have to compensate the damage caused to fish stocks which is estimated at LTL 15,000.

In 2013, commercial fishermen even managed to catch the Atlantic sturgeon which is on the Lithuanian Red List and is planted by the state.

Fewer gross violations

"Strict controls and higher fines for damage to nature were effective. We achieved a threefold drop in the number of gross fishing violations such as poaching using nets or gaffs. There was also a notable decrease (20%) in the number of gross violations of the hunting rules," said Minister Valentinas Mazuronis.

Over 1,600 tools used to commit offences were stripped from poachers who disregarded fishing and hunting rules. They included more than 580 net fishing tools, nearly 100 water vehicles, over 150 banned hunting tools and over 15 rifles.

Strict controls to continue

Active controls of amateur fishermen boosted the sales of fishing permits for amateur fishermen. In 2013, proceeds to the Environmental Protection Support Programme from the issue of permits grew to LTL 5.7 million (from LTL 2.6 million in 2012). The money is used exclusively for measures directly related to the protection of fish stocks such as fish restocking in water bodies, protection of fish stocks and research.

"Animal protection measures must be further reinforced. The Ministry has drawn up proposals to increase liability for poaching, including seizure of vehicles which were used during poaching, and has submitted them to the Parliament. This will make people think twice before resorting to poaching," believes Minister Mazuronis.

Public Information Division

Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas
Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas