The Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (SaWM) closed fishing for herring and sprat in the northern Baltic last month, but has opened the fishery for Gulf of Bothnia by allocating individual quotas for vessels of 15 metres and over, announced Marie Ingerup of the Department for Fisheries Management.
Sweden’s Baltic herring quota is divided into Gulf of Bothnia, eastern and western Baltic areas, while there is a single Baltic sprat quota which this year is 193 tonnes allocated to the coastal fleet. Coastal sprat fishing is mainly carried out by smaller vessels, as well as some larger vessels that are licensed to fish for herring and sprat in the Gulf of Bothnia. According to SaWM, the closure affected these larger vessels and this was to ensure a continued small-scale herring and sprat fishery further into the year.
‘The larger trawlers that fish for herring in the Gulf of Bothnia and sprat in the so-called coastal ratio this year has caught large quantities of sprat. If we allowed them to continue fishing at the same rate as we risked fishing out the entire sprat quota,’ Marie Ingerup said.
‘It is almost impossible for these larger vessels to avoid sprat catch in herring fishery. Therefore the Agency for Marine and Water Management took the step of closing their herring fishery in the Gulf of Bothnia.’
‘We had previously proposed introducing individual allocations for herring and sprat in the Gulf of Bothnia. But as the feedback was negative, we decided to wait,’ she said.
‘With the fishing ban, we had a more urgent situation and there is now a more positive attitude to such a system. This gives us an opportunity to lift the ban.’
The new distribution model of herring and sprat in the Gulf of Bothnia for trawlers of 15 metre and over runs for one year and is based on 2010-2014 track records. This does not affect the existing pelagic fishing system with its ten-year licences and some of the regions trawlers of over 30 metres have already fished their 2016 quotas, but will now have the opportunity to make exchanges with other licence holders.