Finland’s commercial marine fishery catch amounted to 148 million kilos in 2018, being 7 million kilos lower than in the year before. The catch mainly consisted of Baltic herring and sprat caught offshore by means of trawling. In coastal areas, the primary gears were gillnets and traps. While the total volume of coastal fishing continued to decrease, catches of few species increased.
According to the statistics of the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), last year’s Baltic herring catch totalled 126 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 herring catch and half of the sprat catch were landed outside Finland, mainly at ports in Sweden, Denmark and Estonia.
“In coastal areas, catches were 0.4 million kilos for European whitefish, 0.6 million kilos for perch, and 0.2 million kilos for both pikeperch and salmon. The long-term decrease in perch, salmon and pikeperch catches ceased, while the European whitefish catch continued to decrease”, says Pirkko Söderkultalahti, senior statistician at Luke.
The value of the catch was EUR 36 million, calculated on the basis of fish producer prices excluding value added tax. The most valuable species was Baltic herring, followed by sprat, European whitefish, perch and pikeperch.
Prices of herring targeted for human consumption and the coastal fish species rising
“Demand for domestic fish increased the producer prices of most fish species compared with the previous year. This may have resulted from the relatively high price of farmed fish and the growing popularity of local food”, says Antti Takolander, research scientist at Luke.
The price of herring consumed as food (EUR 0.27 per kg) increased, while that of industrial herring used as animal feed (EUR 0.18 per kg) remained at the previous year’s level. The price of larger sized herring that is processed in Finland and consumed as food increased. The price of smaller herring, that was mainly exported, remained low.
The producer price of salmon (EUR 6.08 per kg) fell slightly from the peak level of 2017, whereas the prices of European whitefish, perch, pikeperch, burbot, bream and pike increased.
The price of farmed European whitefish remained high (EUR 10.41 per kg), while that of farmed rainbow trout (EUR 5.15 per kg) decreased from the previous year.
Fishing has decreased
All fishermen catching fish for sales are included in the register of commercial fishermen by the law. Vessels engaging in commercial fishing must also be registered.
“In 2018, the register of commercial fishermen included 2,499 commercial fishermen in sea areas and 3,233 fishing vessels. Both the number of registered commercial fishermen and that of fishing vessels have increased in recent years as a result of the stricter registration requirement in the new Fishing Act”, Söderkultalahti says.
Instead, the number of fishermen who actually reported commercial catches has decreased year after year. Last year, 1,125 fishermen reported catches. This figure is 1,000 smaller than at the beginning of the 2000s.
The fishing volume can also be characterised by the fishing effort which is a product of the amount of fishing days and fishing gear. During the past 20 years, fishing effort has halved in trap net and gillnet fishing and decreased to one seventh in long-line fishing.
In the EU, the number, power and volume of fishing vessels have decreased during the past ten years. At the same time, the size and value of catches have increased.
Background to the statistics
Commercial marine fishery statistics are based on register data collected by the Southwest Finland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY) and the Provincial Government of Aland. Depending on the size of the ship and fish species caught, all commercial fishermen are obligated to report their catch immediately while the ship is at sea, within 48 hours of landing the catch, or by the 20th day of the month following the end of the fishing month. Larger ships have a satellite based vessel monitoring system that allows the authorities to monitor the ship’s movement. Information about fish producer prices is collected from enterprises that purchase fish from fishermen. Information about the producer prices of farmed fish is obtained from the Finnish Fish Farmers’ Association.