According to provisional estimate, the total catch of commercial marine fishery was 147 million kilos in 2018, being 7 million kilos lower than in the year before. The catch mainly consisted of Baltic herring and sprat. Fishers mainly used gillnets and traps in coastal areas. Last year, the European whitefish catch was the lowest during the period over which statistics have been compiled. However, perch and pikeperch catches stopped their decrease.
According to provisional estimates by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), last year’s Baltic herring catch totalled 134 million kilos, being 8 million kilos lower than in the year before. The sprat catch remained as high as in the previous year, totalling 16 million kilos. One-fifth of the Baltic herring and sprat catch was landed abroad, mainly at ports in Sweden and Denmark, and to a smaller extent in Estonia.
The Baltic herring catch decreased while the sprat catch remained unchanged
“Most of the Baltic herring and sprat, landed both abroad and in Finland, were used as animal feed. These small-sized schooling fish species are caught offshore by means of trawling. In total, they covered 97% of the total commercial marine catch of all species”, says Pirkko Söderkultalahti, senior statistician at Luke.
The catches of Baltic herring, sprat, cod and salmon are regulated annually using internationally agreed quotas. Last year’s Baltic herring catch quota in the Gulf of Bothnia was lower than in the year before, which also resulted in a decrease in the Baltic herring catch in the Bothnian Sea and the Bothnian Bay. The quota of the Baltic herring was not fully utilised, while that of the sprat was reached in full. Cod and salmon catches fell short of the quota as well.
The decrease in catches in coastal areas stopped
The majority of commercial fishers used gillnets or traps in coastal areas. While the catch of coastal fishery has decreased in the 2000s, last year’s catches of salmon, pikeperch, perch and smelt were higher than in 2017. The pikeperch catch decreased slightly in the Archipelago Sea, while it increased in the Bothnian Sea, the Bothnian Bay and the Gulf of Finland. However, the European whitefish catch continued to decrease. The low catch volumes of the 2000s are likely a result from the decrease in fishing activities and in the size of European whitefish stocks. In addition, seals have encumbered fishing and caused damage to catches.
Background to the statistics
The information is based on the provisional statistics compiled by Luke on the catches of commercial marine fishery. The estimated volumes of Baltic herring, sprat and cod catches are fairly reliable. However, the catches of other species may change in the final statistics that will be completed in May. All commercial fishers are obligated to report their catch offshore, within 48 hours of landing the catch, or by the 20th day of the month following the end of the fishing month depending on the size of the vessel. Larger vessels have a satellite monitoring system that allows authorities to track the vessels’s movement.