The population of the Baltic salmon is decreasing

September 19, 2011 Coalition Clean Baltic (CCB) presented its position concerning the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for Baltic salmon for 2012
In 2010 the situation in the Baltic salmon spawning was quite complex: the number of salmons returning to spawn reduced, which might be due to the severe frosts in winter. The same situation was observed in 2011 as well. This reducing can hardly be explained by natural fluctuations the number of Baltic salmon stocks only. There is an urgent need to respond to the situation, and that is why it is especially important now to observe the European Commission proposal on fishing opportunities (COM (2011) 562) for 2012 and the recommendations of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).
According to the recommendations of ICES, fishing in the Baltic Sea in 2012 should be reduced to 54 000 individuals (last year this figure was 120 000 individuals). This proposal is supported by the European Commission and the CCB.

CCB proposals
The number of individuals of the Baltic salmon returning to spawn is decreasing on the main rivers in the Baltic Sea basin. We urge the governments of the Baltic region to follow the precautionary approach to salmon fisheries in 2012. The reduced recruitment of the stocks of the Baltic salmon is also expected in the coming years, because of the negative situation mentioned above.
One of the biggest problems is also an unknown and unregulated fishing every year and discarding of the Baltic salmon. According to ICES estimates, the number of discarded and unreported fish is 32 000 and 102 000 individuals respectively. Also, roughly 200 000 juveniles and adults are by-caught unintentionally or due to the unawareness of fishermen. Unreported and unregulated catch exceeds the TAC, so the biggest part of the total catch of the Baltic salmon is out of control.
Basing on the facts above, as well as on unknown, according to the CCB, natural mortality of the Baltic salmon, we call for the lowering of TAC in 2012 to 53 000 individuals in the main basin of the Baltic Sea and 11 000 individuals in the Gulf of Finland.
Besides,
Х The misreporting of catches and illegal fishing must be ceased to the maximum possible extent
Х Low survival rates of juveniles (about 10% only) calls for the need for immediate action to prevent the reducing of already weakened population of the Baltic salmon
Х TACs should also include technical provisions on the types and size of hooks for longline fishing
Х Lack of relevant data and large amount of unknown catches is a major obstacle to evaluate the current problems and to improve the management

Our comment (Olga Senova):
Besides unregulated fishing, the safety of the Baltic salmon is affected by the destruction of the spawning conditions. In the Gulf of Finland region salmons return for spawning to Neva, Narva and Luga rivers. Salmon cannot enter the dammed river, and there is unfortunately many of those in the region. Strelka and Karasta and many other rivers have high dams preventing the spawning run of the fish. Water pollution also affects the Baltic salmon`s living conditions and the spawning.
Experts believe that environment of some of our rivers can be restored to the condition suitable for the reproduction of the Baltic salmon. For example, in 2010 CCB submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Natural Resources on the development of Luga River Basin Management Plan to restore the Baltic salmon stocks as well as the conditions for spawning and nursery grounds.

Comment by Dr Sergei Anatskiy (St Peterburg, Russia):
Unfortunately, neither I nor the representatives of the fishing community organizations in St. Petersburg and Leningrad region which are directly affected by the problem with the Baltic salmon were invited for the development of this management plan. Its final version was not even introduced to us. So as a leader of the RBOO "St. Petersburg Fishermen Union" I declare that we cannot support the Luga River Basin Management Plan.
We believe that there is only one article on one piece of paper that is needed for the Luga River Basin Management Plan to restore the spawning conditions for the Baltic salmon.
This is closing of the Luga salmon pilot plant, long-term activity of which did not give any practical results and became the main reason for changing the genetic structure and decline of population of the Baltic salmon in the river Luga.
As an alternative and in order to preserve jobs and existing infrastructure we suggest to restructure Luga salmon pilot plant for the reproduction of valuable non-salmon fish (lamprey, eel, grayling, whitefish, smelt, pike perch, bream, vimba etc.)
However, we fully support the position of CCB on the total allowable catch (TAC) for the Baltic salmon in 2012, although this question is not very relevant for the Russian part of the Gulf of Finland. Russian fishermen do not fish salmon in the eastern Gulf of Finland, and sea trout fishing, which is also often called a salmon (в оригинале - кумжа, вместо sea trout неправильно названа стальноголовым лососем bulltrout - ј,—,), is prohibited at all because the sea trout is listed in the Red Book of Russia. Russian fishermen fish salmon near Kaliningrad (26th subdistrict of ICES Convention Area). In the Gulf of Finland (32d subdistrict of ICES Convention Area) salmon fishing is conducted by Estonian and Finnish fishermen in their territorial waters.

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