Finland focuses on fishing supervision in Baltic Proper
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Finnish Border Guard and the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for Southwest Finland carried out a joint fishing supervision operation in the southern part of the Baltic Sea on 9–20 March 2019. The pre-selected focus areas of the operation were salmon fishing and trawling for Baltic herring and sprat.
Finland used national funding to support this joint EU supervision operation, which aimed to intensify the supervision of salmon fishing in particular. The operation was coordinated by the European Fisheries Control Agency, which also sent a representative of the agency to act as coordinator.
The Finnish Border Guard, for its part, provided the Tursas patrol vessel and its crew. In addition to inspectors from the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for Southwest Finland, one inspector from Estonia and one from Germany participated in the operation. The multinational cooperation between the authorities flowed very smoothly.
The weather conditions were demanding; strong winds and heavy seas prevented the authorities from carrying out some of their supervision measures. The vessels inspected in the international fishing supervision operation were trawlers, and the inspections focused particularly on the proportions of Baltic herring and sprat in the catches and on how they were reported. The inspections revealed signs of inaccurate estimates of the proportions of species.
In its scientific advice, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) estimated in that 30,500 salmon were erroneously reported as sea trout in 2017. According to preliminary estimates, the number of misreported salmon increased to around 40,000 fish last year.
“Finland has taken significant measures at the political and civil service level to put a stop to illegal salmon fishing in the southern Baltic Sea, which has seen a rapid increase over the past few years,” says Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Jari Leppä.
With this goal in mind, last autumn the EU approved Finland’s proposal for a ban on deep-sea fishing for trout, which prevents the misreporting of salmon as trout. This year, fishing supervision experts have been monitoring the activity and catches of fishing vessels. Their inspections have focused particularly on those vessels that are believed to have misreported salmon as trout in the past. Based on the monitoring data obtained, the activity and catches of these vessels seem to have decreased significantly this year.
Maritime observation data shows a similar pattern. Last year’s supervision measures revealed illegal misreporting of salmon in the southern part of the Baltic sea. The Tursas patrol vessel’s supervision tour, however, did not observe activities by this target group. A maritime supervision operation carried out in February did not observe misreporting by fishing vessels either.
“The intensified supervision of salmon fishing must continue, but for the time being, all our data shows that the measures have been effective and the rate of illegal salmon fishing has decreased,” says Risto Lampinen, Fisheries Counsellor at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
Joint supervision operations in the Baltic Sea have been carried out since 2007. Increased supervision has led to a decrease in the number of breaches and deficiencies in reporting. Fishing supervision tours have also led to the harmonisation of supervision practices in Member States and increased the credibility of supervision.
Risto Lampinen, Fisheries Counsellor, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, tel. +358 295162458, risto.lampinen(at)mmm.fi
Mikko Hirvi, Lieutenant Commander, Coast Guard of West Finland, tel. +358 295427011, mikko.hirvi(at)raja.fi
Paavo Suominen, Fisheries Supervisor, Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for Southwest Finland +358 295022672, paavo.suominen(at)ely-keskus.fi