Onega salmon no longer endangered species? Anglers welcome?

The salmon population is skyrocketing in Lake Onega, so the delicious fish ought to leave the endangered species list, insists the government of Karelia, constituent republic in the Russian northwest.

Experts evaluate the present-day salmon population at more than 500 tonnes--enough to lift a fishing ban which the federal government imposed, January 1 this year, Boris Zhitni, republican Deputy Prime Minister, said to a Karelian government session today.

The Onega fishing ban is robbing the republic of sizable profits, pointed out the conferees.

Tourist fishing licenses at a moderate annual total 50 tonnes promise up to 1.5 billion roubles a year, roughly US$50 million--which amounts to the entire budget of Karelia's tourist industry, says Evgeni Kotkin, president of the republican committee for sport and tourism. "Many tentative tourists don't come to Karelia only because we cannot offer them good fishing," he said to Novosti.

The matter is currently under debate at the federal Ministry for Natural Resources, and the republican government hopes to have at least fishing licenses authorised even if salmon are not stricken off the endangered species list, says Mr. Zhitni