Fishing Rights at Stake: Tabatzghour Residents Take Company Owned by MP Ayvazyan to Court
Residents of Tabatzghour, in Georgia’s Samtskhe-Javakhk region, have taken a company owned by native son Vardan Ayvazyan, a member of the Armenian parliament to court.
Tabatzghour residents want to stop Ayvazyan from building a fish farming enterprise on a lake in the village. They also want to be granted first fishing rights on the lake.
Ayvazyan’s company Ldjer Ltd. leased the lake for fishing. Some of the fish are supposed to wind up at huge fish market and restaurant that Ayvazyan is building in Tbilisi.
15 village residents showed up at a preliminary hearing at the Tbilisi Municipal Court on March 11 according to our colleagues in the Georgian capital. The court indefinitely postponed the hearing until it decides whether or not to accept the injunction petition.
Tabatzghour residents primarily made a living from fishing the lake now leased by a company called Ldjer Ltd.
In 2010 the Georgian government leased the lake to the company for twenty years at a price of 443,000 AMD (US$920).
Ldjer Ltd. was registered in the Georgian State Register a mere four days before the auction for the lake’s lease took place. At the time, Vardan Ayvazyan owned 90% of the company. In 2012, the shares were reregistered in the name of Ayvazyan’s nephew Armen Ayvazyan, who also serves as director of the company.
Ldjer Ltd. has violated the lease contract for the lake. The contract states that fish reserves in the village lake are to reach 60 tons in a period of four years. However, after Ayvazyan dumped crayfish imported from Lake Sevan into the lake, fish stocks have dramatically decreased.
Another apparent violation took place in 2011 when Mikhail Saakashvili gifted Ayvazyan with a 308,000 square meter parcel of land adjacent to the village lake. It turns out that the land is part of a state preserve.
Ayvazyan was supposed to invest 100 million AMD into the land and build suitable infrastructure for tourism and fish faring. None of these promises has been fulfilled.
Thus, Tabatzghour residents want the government to grant them first rights for fishing the lake and to nullify the lease contract with Ayvazyan’s company.