INFORMATION ON FISHERIES MANAGEMENT IN THE REPUBLIC OF FINLAND

January 2005



FISHERIES IN FINLAND

A particular characteristic of the Finnish fisheries is created by the arctic climatic conditions. Fishing waters, and especially coastal waters, are to varying extents covered by ice for part of the year. This means that ice fishing using nets, hooks and traps is common in the winter season while the main fishing period lies between April and November. There are around sixty species of fish indigenous to Finland, of which approximately twenty are fished, including commercial and main recreational species, and one species of crayfish. The commercial fleet is largely comprised of small-scale vessels, with the majority of the vessels less than 18 metres long. Most of the national catch however is comprised of herring and sprat taken for industrial purposes by a small number of larger trawlers. There is a small but active inland commercial fishing industry, largely targeting vendace. Recreational fishing is also important, with approximately forty per cent of the population fishing at least once a year. Ninety per cent of the inland catch is taken in recreational fisheries, as is approximately half of the marine catch other than Baltic herring.  Aquaculture is economically important, more so than capture fisheries, with the most important cultured species being rainbow trout raised in sea cages.

LOCATION AND MAIN LANDING PLACES

 Landings of biggest fishing harbours in Finland in 2003 (‘000 tonnes):

Fishing port

Herring

Sprat

Salmon

Cod

Trout

White Fish

Wendace

Total

Kaskinen

13,960

253

8

0

0

0

0

14,221

Uusikaupunki

8,127

159

1

0

0

0

0

8,286

Rauma

7,603

124

1

0

0

0

0

7,728

Reposaari

7,043

584

1

0

0

0

0

7,627

Kasnäs

4,391

2,131

0

0

0

0

0

6,522

Baggö

385

1,726

0

0

0

0

0

2,111

Konikarvo (Rahja)

1,472

0

0

0

0

1

0

1,473

Jurmo

1,340

0

0

0

0

0

0

1,340

Bergö

1,263

47

3

0

0

0

0

1,314

Klobbskat

1,020

267

1

0

0

3

0

1,291

Total

46,603

5,290

14

0

0

5

0

51,912


GENERAL AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

The Finnish government’s fisheries management objectives are detailed in the Fishing Act 286/1982 (including 154/2003 amendments):

·         to maintain maximum permanent productivity of the waters;

·         to ensure that the fish stocks are exploited rationally and with due attention to fishery viewpoints;

·         to ensure that the fish stocks are managed and expanded; and

·         to avoid measures that might harmfully or adversely affect nature or the balance of nature.

Finish fisheries policy and management come under the umbrella of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) of the EU. The primary aim of the CFP’s fisheries management policy is to ensure exploitation of living aquatic resources that provides sustainable economic, environmental and social conditions. To this end, the precautionary principle is to be applied, and management should be moving towards adoption of an ecosystem-based approach. Management is based on regulating the quantities of fish caught, through a system of Total Allowable Catches (TACs), complemented by technical conservation measures.

Apart from the resource management policy, the CFP is comprised of three key strands: structural policy, market policy and international agreements. Structural policy is aimed at improving the balance between catching capacity and available resources by limiting fishing effort, and to support diversification within and outside the sector. Opportunities to fish in third country waters are also secured through the CFP.

MANAGEMENT TOOLS

Under the CFP, management is based on regulating the quantities of fish caught, through a system of Total Allowable Catches (TACs), complemented by technical conservation measures. Technical measures include minimum mesh size, minimum fish size, area and temporal closures. Fleet capacity reference levels and rules are also used to manage fishing capacity.

Adjustment of fishing capacity

Fishing fleet overcapacity in the EU has been estimated to be as high as 60 per cent in some fisheries, and despite previous fleet policy programmes aimed at bringing capacity down, the issue has yet to be adequately addressed. There is a EU requirement to balance fleets with available resources, and responsibility for meeting this objective rests with the EU Member States.

Fleet adjustment is based on national reference levels that limit overall capacity, in combination with effort limitations introduced for some regions and under recovery plans, restrictions in aid for vessels modernisation, and economic incentives to decommission vessels. When capacity is removed with public aid, the reference level is reduced accordingly. Member States choosing to provide aid for new-builds will also see their reference level reduced by a one-off three per cent. There is an entry/exit ratio for the introduction of new vessels of one to one, with exits supported by public aid not being allowed to be replaced. For new vessels over 100 GT built with public aid, the entry/exit ratio is 1 to 1.35 to counter so-called technological creep. There is some scope to increase tonnage levels if this relates to modernisation above the main deck, as long as this does not increase the catching ability of the vessel.

Total Allowable Catches

Total Allowable Catches (TACs) are a key element of fisheries management in Finland. For a number of key commercial stocks, the EU Member States agrees TACs each December. TACs place an overall limit on the weight of fish that fishermen may land. TAC proposals are drawn up by the European Commission, reflecting scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) on appropriate levels of catches if stocks are to be maintained. Once the TACs are agreed they are divided between Member States according to a system of 'relative stability' under which each receives a national quota for individual stocks. Five stocks of importance to Finland are subject to TACs: herring, salmon, sprat,  cod and plaice.

Technical conservation measures

Technical conservation measures provide a third key management tool. The measures include setting minimum landing sizes for different species; requiring the use of specific mesh sizes; in some circumstances, obliging the use of separator/selective devices; putting restrictions on what fishing gear can be used; and, closing some areas to certain types of fishing, permanently or some times of year. Although most measures are designed in order to protect juvenile or spawning stocks, some are also aimed at reducing impacts on non-target species and habitats. Most measures are adopted by the EU, with some supplementary measures adopted by Finland, particularly concerning territorial waters.

Management plans

According to the CFP, EU recovery plans should be developed for already overfished stocks and management plans for other stocks. Limitation of fishing effort within the plans is subject to case-by-case scrutiny. Plans are also required to take interactions between different stocks and fisheries into account, and may include targets related to other species or the wider marine environment. Plans are supposed to include so-called pre-determined harvesting rules, as a means of introducing a longer term perspectives within fisheries management. Recovery plans currently in place (for cod stocks and northern hake) do not affect Finland. Further recovery and management plans are under development.

Stock enhancement

In addition to management restrictions, extensive fish stocking operations are employed with the rehabilitation of fishing grounds. A significant number of salmon or vendace fry are released in inland waters to ensure the continuation of fishing for stocks negatively affected by dams built during the post-war reconstruction period.

FISHERIES SECTOR INSTITUTIONS

National regulation of marine and freshwater fisheries is the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Department of Fish and Game. Regionally, responsibility lies with the 11 Fisheries Sections under Centres for Employment and Economic Development.

Under the Ministry, the Department of Fisheries and Game directs the administration of fisheries, as well as game and reindeer husbandry. The department has two units specific to fisheries; one of them deals with recreational fishing and the other with the fisheries industry.

Regional Employment and Economic Development Centres manage structural aids. They also maintain registers and provide advice on issues concerning water rights, appropriations for fisheries, regional planning and the management of watercourses. Although the services are mainly aimed at professional fishermen, recreational fishermen can also use them.

The Federation of Fisheries Associations (Kalatalouden Keskusliitto) represent water owners and all fishermen, both recreational and commercial.

Suomen Ammattikalastaja Liitto (SAKL) represents professional fishermen. The representation of the fish traders (Suomen Kalakauppiasliitto) works in close co-operation with SAKL.

The Finnish Fish Farmer’s Association (Suomen Kalankasvattajaliitto) is an industry association founded in 1964 representing all aquaculture activities in Finland. The Association is a member of the Federation of European Aquaculture Producers (FEAP).

Suomen vapaa-ajan kalastajien Keskusjärjestö represent the interests of recreational fishermen in Finland.

Organization chart of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry

Role of the public and private sector

Like most Scandinavian countries fisheries, aquaculture, fish processing and trade are private enterprises. Property rights to fisheries in freshwater and near shore waters are clearly defined and delimited in Finland. Management and research is public and financed mainly through national funds, some of which are based on revenue from fishing licenses. Structural and market- oriented activities are planned through and financed jointly under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) of the European Union, but implemented, executed and monitored by the National Fisheries Authorities.

GENERAL LEGAL FRAMEWORK

Finnish fisheries systems and policies sit within the context of both regional and international fisheries agreements. The overarching international framework is provided by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982), FAO Conference Resolution 15/93 and the UN agreement of 1995 (Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks). While the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries 4/95 has no legal force it does have political implications for the management systems.

The long-term strategy for development in the Baltic region generally is laid down internationally in the Baltic 21 agreement. The Baltic 21 agreement was adopted by eleven Baltic states and the European Commission in 1998. The primary objective is to implement sustainable development in a range of areas. In the fisheries sector, the objectives are in the form of long-term strategies for major fish stocks (cod, salmon, herring and sprat), restoration of habitats important to fish and fisheries in inland waters and achieving sustainable aquaculture.

As noted, Finnish fisheries policy and management come under the umbrella of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) of the EU. Key EU legislation includes:

·         Council Regulation (EC) No 2371/2002 on the conservation and sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources under the Common Fisheries Policy;

·         Council Regulation (EC) No 850/98 for the conservation of fishery resources through technical measures for the protection of juveniles of marine organisms (as amended); and

·         Council Regulation (EC) No 2369/2002 amending Regulation (EC) No 2792/1999 laying down the detailed rules and arrangements regarding Community structural assistance in the fisheries sector.

The main national legislation is that of the Fishing Act 286/1982, including the 154/2003 amendments.

FISHERY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

National and Regional Management

Fisheries management in Finland comes under the European Union Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). However, within the framework there are nationally adopted measures, eg while salmon quotas are set at an EU level, Member States determine where and when salmon can be caught. While the CFP applies most directly to marine fisheries, structural grants are given to the lake regions.

The system of property rights, and hence management, in Finnish waters varies by region and water type. Coastal waters (500 meters from the two meter depth line) and lakes are generally privately owned in connection with the attached or surrounding land. Offshore waters and nature reserves are state owned and managed. Most of the fishing activity takes place in the privately owned water areas. In general private owners have the responsibility for management in their own water under the 1982 Fisheries Act. Although the waters around the west coast in the Gulf of Bothnia and parts of the Archipelago Sea in south-western Finland are privately owned, they are mostly collectively administered by fishing associations at the village level.

Fishing activity in Finland’s privately owned waters is managed at three levels:

  • Locally (fisheries associations);
  • Intermediate level (fisheries regions); and
  • National (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Employment and Economic Development Centres).

Fisheries associations

Most of the Finnish coastal and inland waters are privately owned. Ownership is connected to the property rights of the adjoining land. A governance system for fisheries in private waters has been in place since 1902 and owners of fishing rights are responsible for management of the water and fish under the Fisheries Act 286/1982. Coastal and inland areas are managed by a multi-level decision making process. The interests of land, and therefore water owners, are generally represented in fisheries associations. Under the Fisheries Act 1951 all landowners are obliged to form such an association. These associations have the power to collect revenue from licences, which is subsequently invested in fish stock maintenance and other management practices.

Private water areas are often fragmented and split between many parties, including non-local owners of summerhouses. Non-local summerhouse-owners are shareholders in these statutory fishery associations, but in practice generally participate little in meetings and decision-making. Thus coastal and inland areas are privately owned but collectively managed by statutory fisheries associations.

Fisheries regions

Regardless of their ownership, all privately owned waters are divided into Fisheries Regions, municipal division or division under governmental administrations (see below). In 2000 there were 225 Fisheries Regions. They were established during the 1980s and added to the system of local private water management as an additional level of management. Fisheries Regions present a wider forum for discussion between water owners and fishermen than fisheries associations do. Fishery Region’s boards are comprised mainly of representatives of the statutory fisheries associations, and also recreational and commercial fishermen. The majority of people attending meetings have commercial interests, as fishermen are heavily dependent on access to private waters. Typical management measures implemented by Fisheries Regions include minimum mesh and fish landing sizes and area and temporal closures. Fishing prohibitions are particularly common in the proximity of river mouths. Temporal closures include a ban on salmon fishing in the Gulf of Bothnia in late spring and early summer in order to protect spawning migrations.

Authorities

Authorities are divided into two levels: fishery districts (part of the Employment and Economic Development Centres) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. Employment and Economic Development Centres are regional administrative bodies responsible for, among other things, the administration and supervision of EU and national funds and the local implementation of some fisheries policies. The Centres issue licences for commercial salmon fishing with stationary gear (fykes and traps) and advise on issues concerning water rights, appropriations for fisheries and the management of watercourses. The Employment and Economic Development Centres report to three Ministries, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and the Ministry of Labour.

In 2000 there were 11 fishery districts representing state administration at a regional level. The fishery districts are under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. The Fishery Act requires stakeholders to devise a management plan for the fisheries in their area of water, including aspects on utilization, conservation and restoration.

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN THE REGION

There is extensive international co-operation in the region in fisheries and environmental regulation in the marine environment. Finland is a member of the EU, the North Sea Council of Ministers, The Nordic Council, the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES), the European Inland Fisheries Advisory Commission (EIFAC), and a pro-active member of UN-organisations. Finland is also a contracting party to the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (Helsinki Commission), HELCOM, and the 1992 OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment in the North-East Atlantic.

Until 2004 the fisheries of the Baltic were managed through the International Baltic Sea Fisheries Commission (IBSFC), where TACs and technical measures were agreed on by all parties. Because the EU has exclusive competence over fisheries management, it has negotiated on behalf of Finland since it joined the EU. In 2004, with enlargement to 25 Member States, the Russian Federation was the only non-EU country bordering the Baltic. It is therefore due to be replaced by bi-lateral agreements between Russia and the EU from the end of 2004.

RECREATIONAL FISHERY MANAGEMENT

Recreational fishing is one of the most important outdoor recreational activities in Finland. It is estimated that approximately 40 per cent of the population participate in recreational fishing at least once a year. Most recreational fishing takes place near highly populated areas or in the lake district, where there are many holiday homes.

There are three types of recreational fishing licence (Fishing Law 286/82, the Act on amending the Fishing Act 1355/93 and the Act on amending the Fishing Act 1045/96). The degree to which a person wishing to fish is liable to payment depends on the type of fishing, their age and the area. A fisheries management fee must be paid prior to fishing by everyone between 18 and 64 years old who wishes to participate in fishing activities other than angling or ice-fishing, which are subject to the public right of access. The fee is a tax-like charge payable to the state and includes water owners fishing in their own area, but excludes fishing in the province of Åland, which has its own regulations. Fishing in the province of Åland is subject to the permission of the holder of the fishing rights. All fishing methods are subject to regulations and restrictions.

GOVERNMENT FINANCIAL TRANSFERS

Since Finland joined the EU, the fisheries sector has received economic assistance under the EU Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG). National and EU contributions that were associated with the Common Fisheries Policy and Finland’s fishery policies, including the Åland County, amounted to US$ 19,110,765 in 2001. Approximately three quarters of the total contribution originated from national financial transfers. The support for new vessel construction and vessel modernization was reduced from US$ 1,763,772 in 1999 to US$ 414,809 in 2001, whereas the support for fishing ports more than doubled in the same period of time.

PROJECTION OF SUPPLY AND DEMAND

Because most of fishing occurs in privately owned areas, commercial fishermen are largely dependent on the fishing permits granted to them by the fishery associations and individual owners. The fragmentation of the water areas and the degree of dependency can pose a hindrance in areas such as the Southwest Archipelago, where there are numerous owners and many summerhouses. The social and economic developments, especially the urbanization process, have affected the fisheries system in a way such that land ownership has become more fragmented and non-localized. The small size and scattered structure of privately owned waters, and inequity have triggered demands for reorganization of the fisheries management system.

In recent years there has been a large increase in the size of the grey seal population in Finnish waters. This has led to increased attention given to improving net strength. However, the problem of damaged nets and reduced quality and quantity of catches, due to interference by grey seals still persists.

Local supply and demand of fish is primarily accounted for by fish caught by national fishermen. A very large share of local consumption stems from household fisheries and part-time fishermen. The fishing sector of Finland is geographically very localised. With small-scale processing plants, the sector is not presently geared to large-scale imports of raw material for further processing and re-export. Nonetheless, the national market depends and is likely to remain dependent on imported raw material for further processing.

One of the main issues facing the Finnish fleet is restructuring and downsizing of capacity. There has been an initial reduction in salmon drift net capacity; this is expected to extend to the herring fishery. At the same time, the small-scale fishing fleet is supported and has developed. Restructuring is likely to lead to a more diversified fleet, with vessels moving towards chartered tourist excursions for example.

Any future development of the aquaculture industry is likely to be dependent on diversifying away from rainbow trout. On a 25-year projection of the development it is expected that the national demand for fish for consumption will continue to be high and mostly covered by local fish sources. The processing sector may develop into larger units, capable of utilising the market opportunities of the Common Market through higher imports of raw material from especially Norway.