River Tenojoki salmon population still weak – new restrictions proposed for salmon fishing, restrictions eased for other species
The draft fishing regulations concerning the River Tenojoki for the next fishing season 2022 prepared in the negotiations between Finland and Norway have been sent out for comments. The status of the River Tenojoki salmon population is still weak and the conditions with respect to salmon fishing seem even slightly worse than last year.
However, salmon fishing of a very small scale would be allowed to maintain the salmon fishing culture in the area in this difficult situation. The ministries consider that the total ban on salmon fishing cannot be continued for social and cultural reasons. The proposal is to allow very limited fishing for salmon by using traditional gear. The days when fishing would be allowed are at the end of the fishing season when mainly small one-sea-winter salmon would be caught. The fishing opportunities targeted to other species would be increased.
Based on the monitoring of the River Tenojoki salmon populations, their status is estimated to be so weak that the number of salmon returning to the river from the sea will not fulfil the conditions for sustainable fishing even before a single salmon has been caught. Because of changes in the conditions in the North Atlantic, under the current fishing regulations the recovery of salmon populations has not progressed as expected . Stronger restrictions are needed because fishing allowed by the current fishing regulations would burden the populations too much and jeopardise their recovery. The total ban on salmon fishing in 2021 has had major negative impacts on the local community and on maintaining the traditional knowledge related to salmon.
For the above reasons, it is proposed that during the fishing season 2022 salmon fishing would be allowed with traditional fishing gear used in the River Tenojoki, a weir on four days and a salmon net on two days. The days when fishing is allowed have been selected so that the salmon likely to be caught are those that have spent one year in the sea area, while bigger individuals that are more valuable for the recovery of the population would be spared. Rod fishing of salmon would not be allowed.
The impacts of the restrictions on salmon fishing would be alleviated by increasing the opportunities to fish for other species. A permit available to tourists would allow to fish with a maximum of 6-weight single-hand fly fishing rod.
Fishers living in the area could engage in rod fishing from a shore or boat but e.g. the number of hooks in the lures would be restricted. Sea trout fishing would also be allowed in the River Tenojoki. To reduce salmon bycatch, the most important rapids in the River Tenojoki, Yläköngäs and Alaköngäs, would be designed as closed areas where all rod fishing is prohibited. Protecting salmon is important in the current situation, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry wishes to remind fishers of their responsibility to avoid salmon bycatch.
The deadline for comments on the changes to be made as the outcome of the negotiations is 28 March 2022. The protocol concerning the changes is to be signed at the end of March so that up-to-date fishing regulations for the River Tenojoki will enter into force at the beginning of April. The decree concerning the fishing restrictions in the tributaries of the River Tenojoki will also be amended as necessary due to these changes.
Vesa Ruusila, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 162 051, vesa.ruusila(at)gov.fi
Tapio Hakaste, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 162 152, tapio.hakaste(at)gov.fi