Status of River Tenojoki salmon stocks has not improved – proposal to ban salmon fishing in fishing season 2023
The status of the Atlantic salmon stocks in the River Tenojoki (Tana) did not improve last summer and there are no positive signs that the numbers of fish migrating upstream to the river would increase next year. Because of the weak status of the salmon stocks, it is proposed that salmon fishing in the River Tenojoki should be banned between 1 June and 31 December 2023. Comments on the government proposal can be submitted until 31 October 2022.
Based on the extensive research data from sonar, video and snorkelling counts, the status of the salmon stocks in the River Tenojoki has not improved from the year before. At most the stocks are at about the same level as in 2021, or they be even weaker. The conditions for salmon fishing are not fulfilled: the number of fish returning from the sea is so small that every fish caught would violate the principles of sustainable fishing.
Considering the weak status of the salmon stocks, a total ban on salmon fishing is a necessity. In the current situation it is impossible to define any small volumes of fishing that would not harm the salmon stocks of the River Tenojoki but would allow the Sámi people to practice their salmon fishing culture. However, this does not mean that there will be no fishing or fishing culture in the River Tenojoki because the proposed restrictions will only apply to fishing for salmon. Negotiations with the Norwegian party on changes to the fishing rule with respect to other species will take place in early 2023. Fishing for trout and other species offers opportunities for tourism and for maintaining the traditional fishing knowledge and skills, but it is important to avoid any salmon being caught as bycatch.
This year it has been necessary to conduct the negotiations on salmon fishing in a very tight schedule as this kind of strict restrictions must be passed in Parliament during the current parliamentary term.
In addition to the ban on salmon fishing, the Government proposes that fishing should be targeted to the invasive species pink salmon to prepare for the large numbers of pink salmon ascending to the river next year.
The proposed Act would enter into force on 1 May 2023. The government proposal and the request for comments are available on the website of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. The deadline for the comments is 31 October 2022.
The River Tenojoki is one of the world’s most important spawning rivers for Atlantic salmon. There are about 30 different Atlantic salmon populations in the Tenojoki Watercourse. It is a frontier river between Finland and Norway, and the two countries negotiate every year on the fishing restrictions to be applied. Monitoring data on the River Tenojoki salmon stocks can be found on the website of the Tana Monitoring and Research Group.
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