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Gold prospector irks Salzach fishermen

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Gold prospector irks Salzach fishermen
The method is meant to be more efficient than panning for gold. Photo: Janothird/Wikimedia
19:34 CEST+02:00
An entrepreneur from Bischofshofen in Salzburg has irked local fishermen by announcing that he plans to search the Salzach river for gold with a special gadget that is similar to a vacuum cleaner.

He still needs to get a permit before he can start prospecting, and has been trying to convince fishing associations that his method is environmentally friendly.

Robert Schneider (35), discovered the "gold-sucking” machine in America, where it is also used for taking water samples from rivers. He says that not only does he want to see if he can find gold, but he also plans to gather information about the river bed and write a book about it.  

"The machine can be operated by one person, it’s a kind of vacuum cleaner. It sucks water and gravel up, and a fine mesh retains any gold, iron ore, lead and mercury particles - the water and gravel is cleaned and returned to the river, with only 10 mg per litre of dust,” Schneider told the Kronen Zeitung newspaper.

He hopes to find enough gold to cover the cost of the gadget - a five-digit amount. However, local fishermen are fiercely opposed to his plan as they believe he may endanger fish stocks.

"I’m only going to be using it from May to October - and not during the fishing season. Every fisherman is welcome to come and have a look. I’m working with nature, and not against it."

The regional fishing association says it is also concerned about microorganisms in the gravel. "There are fly larvae, water snails and much more. The fish feed on these, and they will probably not survive the vacuum,” biologist Daniela Latzer said.

Josef Nothdurfter, Pongau district fishing champion feels the same. "The fishermen will feel disturbed, and there won’t be any food for the fish."

Schneider argues that the microorganisms will be returned to the river and has said he is determined to fight for the right to use his machine.

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