Thursday June 20, 2024

Marine fishery catch rises in 2023

Published : 24 May 2024, 00:46

  DF Report
File Photo: Markku Saiha, SAKL via Luke.

The commercial marine fishery catch amounted to 90 million kilograms in 2023, which is three million kilograms higher than in the year before, said the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) in a press release on Thursday.

The catch mainly consisted of Baltic herring caught offshore by means of trawling, the catch of which remained at the previous year’s level. The catch value increased by as much as 33 per cent from 2022, driven by the high producer prices for Baltic herring and sprat.

While the salmon and Baltic herring catch recorded by coastal fishers remained small last year, catches of vendace, perch and smelt, among other species, were larger than normal. In coastal areas, fishers mainly deployed gillnets and traps.

According to Luke, last year’s Baltic herring catch totalled 69 and the sprat catch 15 million kilos, both being more than a million kilos larger than in the previous year. The catch value increased to EUR 37.6 million, driven by higher producer prices. The most important species in financial terms was Baltic herring ahead of sprat, followed by perch, European whitefish, pikeperch, vendace and salmon.

A fifth of the Baltic herring catch and more than half of the sprat catch were landed in Estonia or Sweden. More than ten million kilos of fish were landed at the fishing ports of Uusikaupunki, Kasnäs in Kimitoön, Paldiski in Estonia, and Tuomarainen in Taivassalo. A fifth of the Baltic herring catch landed in Finland was used directly as food, more than a third was used to produce fishmeal for aquaculture, 11 per cent was used as feed for fur animals, and the remaining portion was exported. The majority of the sprat catch landed in Finland (80 per cent) was used in fishmeal production.

“Last year’s vendace catch was record-high at more than half a million kilos. Practically the whole vendace catch was fished in the Bothnian Bay where it was the most important species measured by value,” said Pirkko Söderkultalahti, Senior Statistician of Luke.

The sprat catch fished in the Bothnian Sea was larger than normal. In addition, the perch, bream and roach catches were larger than on average in the 2000s. The decrease of more than ten years in the pikeperch catch came to a stop, while the pike catch was at the average level. The European whitefish, burbot and trout catches were smaller than on average.

To ensure sustainable fishing, catch quotas, as well as seasonal and regional restrictions, have been set for the most commercially important species. Of the quota set for the Gulf of Bothnia, roughly 72 per cent of Baltic herring quota was utilised last year, while the full quota was reached in the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Proper. The sprat quota was also utilised in full. Slightly less than half of the salmon quota was reached, totalling 16,500 fish, and more than half, or 26,000 kilos, of the cod quota was utilised.

In addition to the quotas, the total catch was affected by the state of fish populations, fuel costs, demand for fish, disturbance caused by seals and cormorants, and the fishing effort. In the 2000s, the number of gear days, a product of number of fishing days and the quantity of gear, has nearly halved in trap fishing and trawling, and has decreased to a third in gillnet fishing and to an eighth in hook and line fishing.