Hunting. – Hunting represented in the past one of the most conspicuous assets of the Russian economy, but already in the pre-war period its possibilities were considerably reduced by the rapid increase of the population, and even more by the long and disorderly extermination of game, which tended to gradually migrate towards the less traveled regions of the extreme NE. The expeditions essentially aimed at capturing fur animals (squirrels, stoats, martens, sables, hares and polar foxes, blue foxes, etc., as well as wolves and bears), which were then gathered on the markets of European Russia (Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan ′, Astrakhan, Perm ′, Vologda, etc.), from where the skins, mostly raw (about 70 %of pre-war production), were exported for further processing. However, as the hunting reserves west of the Urals gradually decreased, most of the hunters naturally preferred to take the richer tajgaSiberian. Therefore the bulk of the USSR’s production is now gathered in Omsk, where the Soviet government has set up special warehouses. The main centers of fur hunting in the European sector have moved to the Archangel region and Karelia; at the same time the national industry for the processing of the product was increasingly organized, so much so that between 1926-27 and 1928-29, a 70% increase in the export of processed and dyed leathers was recorded. As for raw hides, their export resumed rapidly after 1923, reaching a figure of over 120 million rubles in 1928-29, which represents more than 12% in value of the total export of the USSR The Russian product it is about half absorbed by Germany.
Fishing. – Even more important, economically, is fishing, especially inland fishing. All the rivers and lakes of Russia, especially those pertaining to the dominion of the Caspian and the Black Sea, are exceptionally rich in fish, which must be compared above all with the very weak slope of the currents (and therefore fishiness is accentuated in the Volga and in the ‘Ural), which allows various marine species to often go up to the upper reaches. In this regard, too, we can repeat what has been said about the intense, disordered waste of hunting resources, especially referring to the hard period immediately after the war, in which, to the detriment of poaching and out of season continue) those determined by the large consumption of naphtha by boats. Already in the last days of the Tsarist regime, attempts had been made to protect the ichthyofauna with appropriate legislative measures, not excluding, among these, the artificial repopulation, to which the new government has given a large impulse. With all this, fishing, even internal, is still far from yielding what it could in the USSR on the basis of a rational system of exploitation; on the contrary, as regards rivers and lakes in the European area, only in the extreme sector of the SE, that is to say along the lower Volga, does it represent the only source of income for a large part of the population. In central and northern Russia, on the other hand, it remained, after all, an ancillary occupation, also because the income here is much lower due to the lower density of the animal population (almost only tench and salmon are caught there); in the past, however, fishing activity must have been very intense, as the toponymy itself attests. Along the lower courses of the Dnieper, the Don, the Volga and the Ural, salmon, carp and sturgeon are caught in large quantities, the latter used, as is well known, in the preparation of caviar. Although the consumption of the internal market is substantial, the surplus destined for export – in the various forms in which the fish is prepared – feeds a number of industries here. The liveliest markets are, on the Volga, Astrakhan and Stalingrad, and on the Don, Rostov; in central and western Russia Char′kov, Kiev and Gorky; in the far north Archangel. The Lower Volga region provided more than half of the national needs before the World War, a proportion that has probably also grown in recent times. The fishery product is around 180-320 thousand, tons there. annual, including caviar, of which the poorest qualities are destined for local consumption, while for the most valuable sturgeons from the lower Ural are widely used.
Faced with inland fishing, the importance of maritime fishing is almost negligible, except for a part of the Caspian, the Black Sea and especially the Azov Sea, where, alongside the migrating species in the rivers, that populate the lower coastal area, and the lakes and lagoons that fringe the Russian sector of the Black Sea for a large stretch (sardines, mullets, mackerel, spiders, cod, eels, etc.).
The Meotide region is also known until ancient times for its fishing activity, in which the populations of the coastal villages have specialized. Much less, however, is the profit that sea fishing gives on the Gulf of Finland and the Ice Sea. In the latter, Sami and Norwegian fishermen (the number of Russian ones is negligible) are engaged in the capture of seals and cetaceans, but economically more profitable is cod fishing, which in the province of Murmansk amounted to 6- 8 thousand tons annual, a somewhat higher quantity than what appears to have been recorded in recent years.
On the whole, fishery products enter barely 1.5-2% in the value of exports (half represented by caviar; 15 million rubles per year, on average, in the last five years, for the entire USSR; there is therefore to take into account the increasingly large contribution of the Asian sector, and especially the Far East), while then, to meet the needs of the domestic market, it is necessary to obtain supplies from abroad, albeit with modest quantities (herring and cod: 0.7 % of the value of imports).