After the destruction of Kakhovka Dam on Dnipro River on 6 June 2023 the Kakhovka reservoir has lost 70% of the water volume it stored, flooding cities, villages, agricultural lands, and industrial facilities for hundreds of kilometers downstream, a broad area covering at least 5,000 sq km. Drinking water supplies, sewage pumping stations, and the drainage system of the immense Dnipro River have been obliterated. This, combined with destruction of homes and other buildings and essential infrastructure, has rendered untold numbers of citizens homeless, although to date official deaths have been limited due to Ukraine’s quick responses.
The fisheries sector of Ukraine was particularly hard-hit. The most valuable region for inland fishery and aquaculture is the lower Dnipro before it joins the Black Sea. The dam’s destruction and the resulting flood destroyed more than 100 fish farms covering an area of 1,045 hectares, and that includes only the farms on the unoccupied side bank of the river. No useful information is available from the occupying forces about the destruction of fish farms on the occupied side. Due to a significant drop in the water level, dying fish and other aquatic animals are observed. This situation leads to the irreversible loss of natural populations of aboriginal species of aquatic bioresources that lived in the reservoir, and aquaculture farms were left without water.
Two of the largest Ukrainian fish breeding facilities have been disabled: the Kherson complex breeding freshwater fish juveniles for the reproduction of native species, and the Dniprovsky complex for sturgeon reproduction. The natural characteristics of the Dnipro River basin have been irrecoverably altered, and any chance of rebuilding the region’s aquaculture sector is completely uncertain. The total immediate environmental damage and financial costs of destruction cannot be estimated because the left bank region is occupied by Russian forces that are not providing information, never mind assistance to those in need. However, it is already obvious that damage to fisheries and aquaculture sectors will extend to the Black Sea’s ecosystem and fish resources. The flood will completely change the sea’s salinity and water quality as millions of tonnes of fresh water, carrying untold tonnes of pollution from the upstream destruction, flows into the sea. The ruined land left bare after the flood will not recover as drought inevitably hits the region.