European pearl mussels’ restoration center to be created

European pearl mussels’ restoration center to be created

June 27, 2023

The unique mollusk is included in the world Red Book list.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. Varlam island hosted an off-site meeting of representatives of Pasvik nature reserve, the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ecology and Fisheries of the Murmansk region, the Kola Mining and Metallurgical combine (KMMC) and the Pechenga district administration. The topic of discussion was the project to restore the European pearl oyster in the reserve, according to the resource Kn51.

In 2022, in the course of monitoring for the Kola MMC, work was carried out to study the pearl mussel population in the rivers near Zapolyarny and Nikel, where Nornickel’s production sites are located, and in the territory of the Pasvik nature reserve. Mollusk habitats and places suitable for its natural relocation have been identified.

Scientists are sure that the restoration of the European pearl mussel population will restore the rivers, return not only their natural state, but also the inhabitants, because this mollusk literally filters the water of the northern rivers and purifies it, helping to get rid of any anthropogenic influence consequences. In the rivers inhabited by salmon, the pearl oyster successfully breeds because its larvae live on these fish gills.

On the Kola peninsula, the pearl oyster has practically disappeared. Many factors contributed to this, including human impact – from fishing to ecology, but pearl mining became the main one on this list.

“Restoring its population is a natural way to clean the water bodies of the Murmansk region from heavy metals, which are present as a natural background. This is a natural unique filter, the presence of which needs to be increased, therefore, together with the Pasvik nature reserve, we have developed and are formalizing the concept of creating a center for the reintroduction of the European pearl mussel”, said Anton Fadeev, chief ecologist of the environmental safety department of KMMC.

According to him, the European pearl mussel reintroduction center will be the Murmansk region know-how. The source will be a population that has been preserved in excellent condition in one of the streams outside the reserve. Scientists propose to resettle it: the pearl mussel will have a chance to settle in a suitable watercourse on the Pasvik nature reserve territory. In addition, there are plans to explore the possibilities of pearl oyster to neutralize heavy metals.

“The project is multi-year, it cannot meet even in three years. Therefore, we need funds for scientific research, laboratory tests, logistics, travel, and administration. So far, we are covering the watersheds of the Pasvik river and adjacent areas. In the future, we would like to become a center of competence and a place from which the pearl mussels’ restoration can begin in other parts of the Murmansk region”, shared the reserve director Natalya Polikarpova.

The reintroduction program and the center creation on the Pasvik nature reserve basis are planned to be presented at the federal level, in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Russian Federation.

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Text: Elena Popova, Photo: Pasvik nature reserve, Alena Afanasova

June 27, 2023

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