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Scientists, fishermen in Macedonia team up to save rare trout

OHRID, Macedonia (Reuters) - Macedonian scientists and fishermen have teamed up to start the artificial breeding of a species of trout unique to Lake Ohrid, its tributaries and outlet, the Black Drim river.

Poaching and overfishing have driven the Ohrid trout to the verge of extinction, despite conservation efforts, including a 10-year fishing ban imposed by the Macedonian government that ran until 2014.

"The biggest problem is poaching with so-called tangle nets, which have a mesh that is smaller than allowed," said Dimitar, a local fisherman.

Under the new conservation program, fishermen from Lake Ohrid use nets to catch spawning fish, carefully placing them in holding containers.

Scientists from the Hydrobiological Institute of Ohrid then milk the roe and sperm from the fish and release fertilized eggs into the lake, said biologist Zoran Spirkoski.

"To help both the people and the Lake Ohrid trout ... a part of the (trout) population can be ... rebuilt through this kind of restocking," Spirkoski said.

(Reporting by Ognen Teofilovski; Writing by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Gareth Jones)