Finland’s Baltic herring catch still decreasing – coastal catches of perch and vendace at a good level
According to provisional statistics, Finland’s commercial marine fishery catch amounted to 88 million kilos in 2022, being almost 10 million kilos smaller than in the year before. The catch mainly consisted of Baltic herring, the volume of which decreased for the sixth year in succession. The catch of many species fished in coastal areas was also smaller than on average in the 2000s. Perch and vendace were exceptions, with their catches being larger than regular.
According to provisional statistics by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), last year’s Baltic herring catch totalled 70 million kilos, being seven million kilos smaller than in 2021. The total catch of sprat, caught as a by-catch in the fishery targeted at Baltic herring, decreased by 1.3 million kilos from the previous year to 13 million kilos. Combined, these species, primarily caught from the open sea by the trawler fleet, accounted for 95 per cent of the commercial marine fishery catch.
Fewer trawlers at sea, a smaller volume of Baltic herring caught by trawling
In the 2000s, the Baltic herring catch has ranged from 63 to 136 tonnes a year. According to the provisional statistics, last year’s catch was the third smallest in the 2000s.
“The majority of the Baltic herring catch was caught by vessels of at least 10 metres by trawling. During the last ten years, the number of these types of vessels has decreased by a third, with their number being 32 last year. In addition, the catch-per-unit-effort of the Baltic herring has varied among years. Last year’s Baltic herring catch per trawling hour was roughly 1,600 kilos, while the corresponding figure ten years earlier was 2,200 kilos,” says senior statistician Pirkko Söderkultalahti.
Baltic herring, sprat, cod and salmon catches are regulated by annually agreed international catch quotas to ensure the ecological, economic and social sustainability of fishing. For Finland, a Baltic herring catch quota has been set for two management areas. Of the quota set for the Gulf of Bothnia, roughly 55 per cent was utilised in the previous year, while the full quota was reached in the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Proper.
The sprat catch quota was fully utilised. Slightly more than half of the salmon catch quota was reached, totalling a little more than 20,300 fish. The status of the cod populations in the Baltic Sea is very poor and catch quotas have been reduced significantly in recent years. Ten years ago, Finland’s total cod catch was more than one million kilos, while last year’s catch was down to a few per cent of that volume, totalling 30 tonnes.
Fewer fishers in coastal areas, large catches of certain species
“Less than a thousand commercial fishers operated in sea areas. Most of them fished with gillnets or traps in coastal areas. The most common species in coastal fishing was perch, caught by more than 750 commercial fishers. The perch catch increased in all areas except for the Gulf of Finland, being roughly a million kilos according to the provisional statistics. Last year’s vendace and smelt catches were also larger than the average, while catches of salmon, trout, European whitefish, pikeperch and roach were once again small. The decrease in catches is result of, for example, decrease in fishing effort. The number of active fishers has more than halved from over 2,100 fishers during the 2000s*. Fishers becoming older and the populations of seals and cormorants becoming more abundant are other key factors,” says Söderkultalahti.
* News updated 13.2.2023:
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Bakgrund till statistiken
Uppgifterna baserar sig på Naturresursinstitutets förhandsuppskattning om fångsten för det kommersiella fisket i havsområdet. De preliminära uppgifterna om fångsten av strömming, vassbuk, lax och torsk är mycket tillförlitliga. Däremot kan fångstmängderna för de övriga arterna preciseras något i den slutliga statistiken som blir klar i maj. Alla kommersiella fiskare är skyldiga att rapportera sin fångst. Detta ska beroende på fångstart och fartygets storlek göras antingen direkt från havet, inom 48 timmar från det att fångsten landats eller före den 20 i den påföljande månaden. NTM-centralen i Egentliga Finland och Ålands landskapsregering följer hur fångstkvoterna nyttjas. Naturresursinstitutet får tillgång till fiske- och fångsuppgifterna för upprättande av statistik och för forskning.