According to a preliminary estimate, the total catch of commercial marine fishery was 136 million kilos in 2019, being 12 million kilos less than in the year before. The total catch mainly consisted of Baltic herring and sprat.gGillnets and traps were the major gears in coastal areas. Catches of many species increased from the previous year, while they remained lower than on average in the 2000s.
According to a preliminary estimate by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), last year’s herring catch totalled 113 million kilos, being 13 million kilos lower than in the year before. The sprat catch quantity remained about the same as in the previous year, totalling 16 million kilos. One third of the Baltic herring catch and two thirds of the sprat catch were landed outside Finland at ports in Estonia, Denmark and Sweden.
Fishing quotas affect catches
The herring and sprat catches, mainly caught from the open sea by trawler vessels, were 95% of the total commercial marine fishery catch. The majority of the herring catch was fished from the Bothnian Sea, while sprat was mainly caught from the Archipelago Sea.
The catches of Baltic herring, sprat, cod and salmon are constrained by multinational quotas.
“The herring quotas set for the Bothnian Bay, the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Proper have decreased in the past two years, which is reflected in lower catches. However, the herring quota was not fully utilised, while that of the sprat was fished in full. Cod and salmon catches fell short of the quota as well,” says Pirkko Söderkultalahti, senior statistician at Luke.
The majority of commercial fishermen used gillnets or traps in coastal areas. The total coastal catch was at its lowest in 2017 and 2018, if the smelt catch is not included in the statistics. Last year, salmon, European whitefish, European perch, vendace, bream and roach catches increased slightly. However, only the roach catch was higher than on average in the 2000s. Smelt catches have increased steeply during the past two years. They accounted for half of the total coastal catch in 2019. The decrease in catches of other species is an outcome of, inter alia, lower fishing effort.. The number of active fishermen has reduced by more than 50 % from the 2,100 fishermen at the beginning of the 2000s.
Background to the statistics
The information is based on the preliminary statistics prepared 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 be revised in the final statistics that will be published in May. Depending on the size of the vessel, 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 tracking system that allows the authorities to monitor the ship’s movement.
Information about catches from 2000–2018 is available in Luke’s statistical database, now also at a province level. Mika Rahikainen, senior statistician at Luke, says that there has been demand for this spatial information, particularly in the Åland Islands.
The region is defined on the basis of the residence of the fisherman or enterprise.
Central Finland has been merged with Central Ostrobothnia, Tavastia Proper with Uusimaa, Pirkanmaa with Southwest Finland and Päijänne Tavastia with Kymenlaakso.