The city of Aralsk is shown in the 1964 ARGON image on the coast of the sea. By 1977, the sea had retreated from the city but was still just a few kilometers away. As depicted in the 2015 image, Aralsk sits nearly 20 km from the water’s edge.
Commercial fishing in the Aral Sea peaked in the late 1950s. With the drop in water levels and rise in salinity, the fish that once thrived in the sea could not survive. As a result, commercial fishing was no longer sustainable by the early 1980s.
With the recovery of the North Aral, commercial fishing has started up again. It’s still just a fraction of what it was in the 1950s, but Aralsk is again processing fish at a new plant, established after the completion of the Kok-Aral Dam in 2005. Aralsk is not the thriving city it once was, but the return of the North Aral gives residents some hope of recovery.