According to recent electrofishing surveys by the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute, the status of sea trout is critically endangered and very few juveniles were found in the Gulf of Bothnia in autumn 2012. Oceana is alarmed that despite this precarious situation, sea trout remains almost completely unmanaged, apart from some fishing bans in certain river mouths and closed seasons, and no TAC or quota has been established.
“We are deeply concerned that the Finnish Government continues to allow fishing for this endangered species”, said Hanna Paulomäki, Baltic Sea Project Manager and Marine Scientist at Oceana. “The commercial and recreational exploitation of these threatened stocks should be completely banned in order to safeguard and guarantee the recovery of the remaining wild sea trout populations in the region.”
In many areas in Finland, the biggest threat posed to the species is net fishing by recreational fishermen. Furthermore, the current use of small mesh sizes in gill nets is completely inconsistent with the minimum legal landing size of sea trout. Oceana recommends improving the status of the stocks through measures that ban fishing in river mouths where threatened stocks can be found, better prevent by-catch, increase the minimum mesh size, enforce more closures and restore habitats where possible.
There are about 500 wild sea trout stocks in the Baltic Sea, the statuses of which vary across the region. According to the latest ICES advice, a sharp decline in river catches in previous decades combined with a steady decline in the age of sea trout caught in this area indicates that populations are well below historic levels (especially in Finland and Russia). Today there are only eight river populations left in the Gulf of Finland, and only one in the Archipelago Sea.
Learn more: Fisheries management in the Baltic Sea