The Bornholm Baltic Fishing Fleet asks “Do we have a future?” Photo: Red Bornholms Fiskere
“Do we have a future in Bornholm, Lea Wermelin and DTU Marie Storr-Paulsen?”
That is the question being asked by the fishing fleet of Bornholm whose livelihoods have been severely impacted by the closure of the Baltic Sea Cod fisheries.
Bornholm is a Danish island located in the eastern Baltic Sea off the south coast of Sweden. The fleet there has traditionally relied on the cod stocks of the surrounding waters but their collapse has led to the fisheries being closed and although there has been many promises of support from the Danish government, the fishers there have been given no answer to the questions of their future in the Easern Baltic.
“We fishermen might be able to get that answer Monday 29/6, when there is a general meeting in Bornholm’s & Christiansøs Fisheries Association. As you can see, almost all the last smaller boats are in Gilleleje Havn, many of us are 1-man boats and have been away from Bornholm for many months, some up to almost a whole year. Many of them have very small conditions, bad toilet and bath conditions at the ports, as well as a big loss to friends and family on Bornholm, it’s not a way to live for longer at a time,” says Claus Stenmann Hansen of the ‘Cometen’ R200.
“We don’t see much help packages either and when yes, we have a fishing minister Mogens Jensen who has gotten 8.5 million DKK ($1.1m) for all the fishermen affected in the Baltic Sea. After which we heard him say on Bornholm Radio that 230 thousand kroner (approx €31,000) in 3 years is a good piece of money. Then you get sad to hear that we are not worth more, we stand ahead and have a cut in the quotas by 90 %, not many people can survive that.”
He continues by saying that it is difficult when fishers are characterised by conservation organisations as being responsible for the eradication of cod stocks.
“It’s not our fault, for 10 years we’ve been watching the cod being filled with liverworms that the cod dies from when they turn 40 cm. These worms come from the seals, which has been proven. So it doesn’t help to blame the last smaller trawlers, we really hope that people will soon see nature conservation associations that exploit the resistance to trawlers and pictures of cute seals as a means of getting more members.”
Seals have been blamed by fishers from around the Baltic Sea circle for the collapse of Baltic cod and they believe a seal cull is the best answer to helping stocks recover.
“There is only one solution if we are going to have a good and healthy cod stock in the Baltic Sea, now we are not talking about fishing but about health for nature. We fishermen live in nature at sea, and every day we see what happens underneath the surface, it hurts us to see the animals suffer underwater. You can’t afford to watch without wanting to help.
“Unfortunately, there is no way to help as the country is now, as mentioned, the cod stock is low because of the worm that infects the fish from the seals’ feces and it will only increase over time when the seals multiply. This will require heavy regulation of the seal stock covering the coasts around the Baltic Sea right now, in order to achieve a healthy and parasite-free fish stock in the Baltic Sea.
So Lea Wermelin get started, Now!”
The increase in seal populations is a matter that concerns a lot of inshore fishers but unfortunately mismanaged seal protections is causing increasing damage to fish stocks which is resulting in driving fishers out of business.