Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry adopts conservation values for declining and threatened fish species
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has issued a decree on the conservation values of declining and threatened fish. The decree is related to an amendment to the Fishing Act that entered into force on 1 May 2019. Under the amendment, the value of illegal catches of threatened or declining fish species shall be forfeited to the State based on the value of the species in question in connection with fishing offences and violations.
The objective of the new forfeiture is to strengthen compliance with the provisions on catch sizes, protection and catch quotas of threatened and declining fish species and to improve the protection of species and rehabilitation of stocks.
“The legal consequences of illegal fishing have been so minimal that the sanction scheme has been deemed partly ineffective,” says Senior Specialist Sanna Koljonen from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, who was in charge of preparing the decree. Costly measures aiming to improve the conditions of migratory fish, for instance, have in some cases been rendered completely ineffective due to illegal fishing.
The idea is that adopting the conservation values will improve the protection of the species against illegal fishing, while also sending a more general message about the value of threatened and declining fish species and the gravity of illegal fishing. The confirmed values will also make it easier to handle the offences and violations in court proceedings, as the values are easily available and do not need to be calculated separately.
The Nature Conservation Act and Hunting Acts, and decrees issued under these, contain similar provisions on forfeitures and the value of animals and game species protected under these Acts.
Highest protection value set at EUR 7,510
The fish species affected by the decree are salmon, landlocked salmon, eel, lamprey, trout, grayling, Arctic char and noble crayfish, as well as European whitefish in rivers and brooks flowing into the sea. The individual species are categorised as conservation targets based on the most recent evaluation of threatened species (Red List 2019) and the Fishing Decree.
The decree on conservation values lists 23 different values ranging from EUR 50 to EUR 7,510. The species with the highest value is landlocked salmon in the Vuoksi river basin, while noble crayfish has the lowest value.
The conservation values are based on calculations by the Natural Resources Institute of Finland of the practical costs of replacing the affected conservation target. The values are defined based on the conservation needs of the target, its ability to regenerate and the size of the population at a reproductive age.
Fishing within the restrictions is permitted
Fishing for threatened and declining species is permitted, provided that the protection periods, catch sizes and other fishing restrictions are taken into account. If a protected, threatened fish specimen or one that violates the catch size limits is caught accidentally, it must be immediately returned to the water even if it is dead. In addition to the provisions on the conservation of individual species and populations, fishers must also respect and take into account the general prohibitions and restrictions laid down in the Fishing Act.
The new forfeiture and the conservation values to be forfeited to the State will be applied only in cases where the fisher has retained a fish defined as threatened in the decree. Outside of the protection periods, fishing for threatened species within the catch size limits is permitted as provided in the Act.
Decree on the value of threatened and declining fish species (in Finnish)
Memorandum (in Finnish)
Inquiries at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry:
Sanna Koljonen, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 29 516 2007
Eija Kirjavainen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 29 516 2404
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