According to a preliminary estimate, the commercial marine fishing catch amounted to 154 million kilograms in 2017. The bulk of this catch consisted of Baltic herring and sprat. On the coast, poor weather conditions and seals hampered fishing and resulted in an exceptionally low catch.
According to a preliminary estimate by the Natural Resources Institute of Finland (Luke), 134 million kilos of Baltic herring and 16 million kilos of sprat were fished last year. The total catch of these species stayed on previous year’s level, but the catch increased in the southern parts of the Baltic Sea and decreased in the Bothnian Sea. The fifth of the Baltic herring and sprat catch was landed abroad.
The volume of Baltic herring and sprat catch still high
Most of the Baltic herring and sprat, landed both abroad and in Finland, were used as animal feed. The catch of cod, fished in the southern parts of the Baltic Sea, remained once again low at 190,000 kilos.
– In total these species, mainly caught by trawling offshore, accounted for 98 per cent of the total catch of all species, says senior statistician Pirkko Söderkultalahti from Luke.
Fishing quotas apply to Baltic herring, sprat, cod and salmon, which means that annual country and fishing zone specific fishing quotas regulate catch volumes. Baltic herring stock has been strong in recent years, resulting in high fishing quotas. Despite the high volume of the catch, the Baltic herring quota was not reached. Sprat quota, however, was met. Cod and salmon catches fell short of the quota as well.
Poor catches for coastal fishers
The majority of commercial fishermen fished with gill nets or trap nets in coastal areas. Compared to 2016, the catch of many species fished in coastal areas decreased significantly. The catch of salmon, trout, European whitefish, and perch was smaller than ever in the observation period that began in 1980. Also the catches of many species that are considered less valuable, such as bream, ide, and roach decreased. Smelt was an exception with an increase in the catch.
– The decrease in the volume resulted from reduced fishing. Poor weather conditions and problems caused by seals have also affected fishing,Söderkultalahti says.
The information is based on the statistics prepared by the Natural Resources Institute Finland on the catches of commercial marine fishing. 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 ready in May. Depending on the size of the ship, 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 trip. Larger ships have a satellite tracking system that allows authorities to monitor the ship’s movement.