Aral Sea Recovery?
With help from the government, the World Bank, and scientists, the northern part of the Aral has started to make a recovery. There are fish in the water again, and for the past four years, fishermen have gathered to celebrate.
One Sunday afternoon in Kazakhstan last August, three dozen fishermen met near the south end of the North Aral Sea for a celebration. They brought goats, sheep, and fish—pike, perch, and carp—as well as apples, a special treat in the Central Asian steppe. They drank beer and vodka, and the mayor awarded medals to the previous season’s best fishermen. The men had running races and throwing contests, and afterwards, they relaxed by smoking cigarettes, telling stories, and singing songs about the Aral Sea and fishing and how much they loved both.
For many years, the Aral—the infamous inland sea-turned-desert, the one historians and environmental scientists still place among the worst ecological disasters ever—gave these men nothing to celebrate. The fishery died