Finland’s commercial marine fishing catch amounted to 157 million kilograms in 2016. The bulk of this catch consisted of Baltic herring and sprat. Record amounts of both were caught, mainly by trawling offshore. The majority of the fishermen fished with gill nets or trap nets in coastal areas. Their catch was exceptionally low again last year.
In 2016, 136 million kilos of Baltic herring and 17 million kilos of sprat were fished. The catch of both species increased by about five million kilos year-on-year.
– The catch of herring was record high. One third of the herring and one half of the sprat catch was landed at ports in Sweden, Estonia and Denmark, says Senior Statistician Pirkko Söderkultalahti of the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).
The fishermen received EUR 40 million for their catch in 2016. In terms of value, the most important species was Baltic herring (EUR 29 million), followed by sprat (EUR 3.1 million), European whitefish (EUR 2.0 million), pikeperch (EUR 1.4 million) and perch (EUR 1.4 million).
Baltic herring is the most important species in commercial fishing
Species fished offshore accounted for 97 per cent of the total catch of all species. Most of the Baltic herring and sprat, landed both abroad and in Finland, were used as feed. The catch of cod, fished in the southern parts of the Baltic Sea, remained very low at 86,000 kilos.
– Fishing quotas apply to Baltic herring, sprat, cod and salmon, which means that annual country and fishing zone specific fishing quotas regulate catch volumes. Baltic herring and sprat stocks have been strong in recent years, resulting in exceptionally high fishing quotas, says Söderkultalahti.
Small catches for inshore fishermen
The majority of professional fishermen fished with gill nets or trap nets in coastal areas. Their catch fell below that of the best years. Of economically important fish species for inshore fishing, only the catch of perch (705 tonnes) and vendace (204 tonnes) was above the average for the years 1980–2015.
The catch of European whitefish and trout was smaller than ever in the aforementioned period, while that of pikeperch also decreased. The catch of perch peaked during the period in 2014, but decreased during the last two years whereas the catches of bream, ide, roach and smelt increased. Poor ice conditions in successive winters in 2014–2016 have hampered and reduced fishing. Problems caused by seals have probably also affected whitefish fishing in particular.
The statistics are based on the catch declarations made by fishermen
Commercial marine fishery statistics are based on register data collected by the Southwest Finland ELY Centre (Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment) and the Provincial Government of Åland. Everyone fishing for commercial purposes must be included in the commercial fishermen’s register and report their catch data. Depending on the size of the fishing vessel and the catch species, reports are filed either for each catch of fish, or on a monthly basis. Ships engaged in commercial fishing in marine areas must also be registered. In 2016, the register contained 2,360 commercial fishermen and 3,092 fishing vessels. Both the number of fishermen and vessels increased from the previous year due to the provisions of the new Fishing Act. More than 1,400 fishermen filed catch reports.
The information is based on the statistics prepared by Natural Resources Institute Finland on the catches of commercial marine fishing.
Statistics: Commercial marine fishery 2016