Finland’s commercial marine fishery catch amounted to 135 million kilos in 2019, being a more than 12 million kilos lower than in the year before. The catch mainly consisted of Baltic herring and sprat caught offshore by the trawler fleet. In coastal areas, fishermen mainly deployed gillnets and traps. While the volume of coastal fishing continued to decrease, catches of some fish species increased.
According to the statistics of the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), last year’s Baltic herring catch totalled 113 million kilos, being 14 million kilos lower than in the year before. The sprat catch remained at the same level as in the previous year, totalling 16 million kilos. Overall, 90% of Finland’s Baltic herring quota was utilised, while the sprat quota was reached in full.
“In 2019, one third of the Baltic herring catch and half of the sprat catch were landed outside Finland, mainly at ports in Sweden, Denmark and Estonia. The volume of Baltic herring landed abroad has increased. In the previous year, only one fifth, or 20 million kilos, of the Baltic herring catch was landed outside Finland”, says Pirkko Söderkultalahti, senior statistician at Luke.
The major fish species in coastal fishing were European whitefish, perch, vendace, salmon and pikeperch. Catches of European whitefish and salmon were low compared with the long-term average, while catches of perch and pikeperch were average. The vendace catch was the highest in nearly four decades.
The value of the catch was EUR 36 million, calculated on the basis of fish producer prices excluding VAT. The most important species in financial terms was Baltic herring, followed by sprat, whitefish, perch and vendace.
Price of Baltic herring for human consumption continued to increase – the rise in prices of coastal fishing species ended
The price of Baltic herring intended for human consumption continued to increase. In 2019, the price paid for Baltic herring intended for human consumption was EUR 0.32 per kilo, while it was EUR 0.27 per kilo in the year before.
“The price increase mainly concerned larger herring, which is used as raw material for fillets and smoked herring in Finland. Instead, the price paid for herring used as feed decreased slightly from the previous year due to the downward trend in the fur industry”, says Antti Takolander, research scientist at Luke.
The decrease in the price of Norwegian salmon at the end of the year affected the prices of farmed rainbow trout and wild-caught fish. The rise in the prices of the most important coastal fishing species ended. The prices of wild-caught salmon (EUR 6.07 per kilo) and European whitefish (EUR 4.73 per kilo) remained at the previous year’s level, while the producer price of pikeperch (EUR 6.08 per kilo) decreased slightly from the year before. The price of perch (EUR 2.38 per kilo) remained at the 2018 level.
Financially, rainbow trout is the most important fish species farmed in Finland. The price of farmed rainbow trout (EUR 4.50 per kilo) decreased from the previous year, with the decrease focusing on the latter half of the year when the global market prices of salmon fell steeply. However, the price of farmed European whitefish reached a new record in 2019, being EUR 10.66 per kilo. While there would be more demand for farmed European whitefish, its farming volumes have remained low.
Fewer and fewer fishermen
In 2019, the registers of commercial marine fishery included 2,231 fishermen and 3,205 fishing vessels. The number of registered commercial fishermen and fishing vessels has increased as a result of the stricter registration requirement set out in the new 2016 Fishing Act. Instead, the number of fishermen who catch fish for sales has decreased year after year. Last year, 1,070 fishermen registered catches, half of the corresponding figure at the beginning of the 2000s.
Fishing effort can also be described as a function of fishing days and the amount of deployed gears. During the 2000s, fishing effort with trap net and gillnet has halved, while fishing effort with hooks and lines has decreased to one ninth.
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 Åland. Depending on the size of the ship and the fish species that are being caught, all commercial fishermen are obligated to report their catch 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 monitoring system that allows the authorities to track the ship’s movement. Information about fish producer prices is collected from the ELY Centre’s registers and enterprises that purchase fish from fishermen. The Finnish Fish Farmers’ Association provides information about producer prices of farmed fish.