News Fish, Statistic

Finland’s commercial marine fishing catch amounted to 155 million kilograms in 2017. The bulk of this catch consisted of Baltic herring and sprat, both of which were mainly caught by trawling offshore. The majority of the fishermen fished using gill nets or trap nets in coastal areas. Their catch was exceptionally low again last year.

A preliminary estimate of the catches of commercial marine fishing was published in the beginning of the year. The data published now is final.

Fisherman Mikael Lindfors going through and emptying a trap net. (Photograph: Markku Saiha / Suomen Ammattikalastajaliitto ry [Finnish Professional Fishermen’s Association]).
– The fishermen received EUR 36 million for their catch in 2017. In terms of value, the most important species was Baltic herring (EUR 25,4 million), followed by sprat (EUR 2,9 million), European whitefish (EUR 1,9 million), perch (EUR 1,3 million), pikeperch (EUR 1,2 million) and salmon (EUR 0,9 million), says Senior Statistician Pirkko Söderkultalahti of the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke).

Baltic herring and sprat caught by trawling offshore

134 million kilos of Baltic herring and 16 million kilos of sprat were fished last year. The majority of the Baltic herring was caught in the Bothnian Sea, and the majority of the sprat was caught in the southwest marine areas. Fishery of Baltic herring and sprat is highly centralised, and the ten trawlers with the largest catches accumulated half of the total catch. One fifth of the total catch, i.e., 26 million kilos, was landed in ports in Sweden, Denmark, Estonia and Poland. Most of the Baltic herring and sprat landed both in Finland and abroad were used as animal feed.

– For the fifth year in succession, the catch of cod, fished in the southern parts of the Baltic Sea, remained low at 191,000 kilos, Söderkultalahti says.

Fishing quotas apply to Baltic herring, sprat, cod and salmon, which means that annual country and fishing zone specific fishing quotas regulate catch volumes. In recent years, the stocks of Baltic herring and sprat have been strong, resulting in exceptionally high fishing quotas.

The salmon stocks in the Gulf of Bothnia have increased in recent years, but catches have been historically low, for example, due to small fishing quotas.

However, cod in the southern parts of the Baltic Sea has fared poorly. Quotas have been reduced, and catches have been significantly lower than the quotas.

Total catch in commercial marine fishery, by marine areas, in 2017, 1,000 kg.

European whitefish, pikeperch, perch and salmon fished using gillnets or trap nets in coastal areas

The majority of commercial fishermen fished with gill nets or trap nets in coastal areas.

– In terms of economic value, the most important species were European whitefish with 0.4 million kilos, perch with 0.6 million kilos, pikeperch with 0.2 million kilos, salmon with 0.2 million kilos, and vendace with 0.3 million kilos, Söderkultalahti says.

The catch of European whitefish, salmon and trout was smaller than ever in the observation period that began in 1980. The catches of pikeperch, perch and pike have not been this low for 20 to 30 years. Also the catches of many species that are considered less valuable, such as bream, ide, and roach, decreased. Vendace and smelt were exceptions with an increase in the catch. Factors that had an impact on the catch of coastal fishers included weather conditions, as well as disturbance caused by seals and cormorants.

The numbers of active fishermen decreased

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 2017, the register contained 2,491 commercial fishermen and 3,217 fishing vessels. Both the number of registered fishermen and vessels increased from the previous year due to the provisions of the new Fishing Act. However, the number of persons fishing for commercial purposes decreased: less than 1,300 fishermen, that is more than one hundred fishermen less than in 2016, filed catch reports.

A preliminary estimate on the Commercial marine fishery statistics is published during January following the statistical year, and a final estimate in May. For more detailed information on the statistics, please visit stat.luke.fi. Data starting from 1980 is available in the statistics database.

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