Sea salmon fishing is no threat claims the leaders of Fiskerlaget Sør and the Norwegian Sea Salmon Fishermen
Sea salmon fishing is no threat to either salmon or river fishing claims both the leader of Fiskerlaget Sør, Lennart Danielsen and Tomas Sandnes, general manager of Norske Sjølaksefiskere (Norwegian Sea Salmon Fishermen) in the following article.
These days, the Storting is considering the ban on sea salmon fishing, which was introduced in March. Under the heading “AP and SP decide the fate of wild salmon”, Norske Lakseelver gives the impression that sea salmon fishing threatens both the salmon and the eventually extensive river fishing in Norway.
The impression is spread through Facebook and on the website, through play with numbers and lengthy statements. It cannot go unchallenged.
We have a common responsibility to preserve the wild ax. Norwegian sea salmon fishermen are very concerned that we ensure a sustainable resource extraction, based on scientific stock measurements. At the same time, it must be possible to distribute the resources fairly.
We hope AP and SP see that those who are least affected by the austerity measures are precisely the anglers in the larger rivers. They just want more salmon for themselves.
Norwegian salmon rivers indicate that most of the fishing takes place in the rivers. It cannot be a separate argument. That has not always been the case. Over time, sea salmon fishing has become more and more limited in favour of river fishing. The rivers that are now closed are the rivers that are least interesting for anglers, but which the locals, not least the youth, have greatly enjoyed through a limited local fishing.
We are, of course, in favour of strict reporting of all fishing. If the river is closed first, because a limited and uninteresting fishing in an economic perspective has not been reported, it will in practice be closed forever. This is because it will cost too much to acquire knowledge about the stock of rivers that are not commercially interesting as sport fishing rivers.
We believe that a fair distribution of burdens must be maintained to ensure that the people in the districts and along the coast also continue to have a share in the fishing, as they have done for generations. For many commercial fishermen, important income is now lost overnight.
The ban is therefore of great importance to them and their families. Wild salmon will also not be available for purchase in the store in several regions where fishing is closed. Converted into kilo price and number of meals, sea salmon fishing is not an insignificant resource. Should one really prioritize sport fishing so highly over fishing for healthy, short-distance food?
Thanks to strict management since 1989, including treatment of a number of rivers for gyro-infected stocks and liming against acid rain, the spawning stock targets have been reached in over 90 per cent of Norwegian salmon rivers. In a number of rivers, the spawning stock targets have been reached by a very good margin.
The spawning stock target has never been better in the last thirty years and is increasing in most rivers. Access from the sea has increased in the last ten years in most Norwegian regions. There is no reason to assume that the so-called small and vulnerable stocks have had a different development. Sea salmon fishing does not threaten stocks, neither in large nor small rivers. To claim that the ban on sea salmon fishing “determines the fate of wild salmon” is therefore just nonsense.
This new argument comes on top of what the Norwegian salmon river has been doing in recent years: that sea salmon fishing threatens the so-called small and vulnerable stocks. We hope the politicians are awake here. The Scientific Council for Salmon Management has used methods that cover 95 per cent of salmon fishing and has believed that salmon stocks are in good condition.
No research has been done on these small and vulnerable stocks since 2014. Neither the researchers nor the Norwegian Environment Agency have taken the initiative for a change in practice, it is the river fishermen led by Norwegian Salmon Rivers who have done so.
We want more research and are happy to contribute to the best possible knowledge about sea salmon fishing and salmon stocks. The ban should therefore be postponed until a real assessment has been made of the burdens for those who are now hard hit, and the researchers have established a “baseline” according to which the development of so-called small and vulnerable populations can be evaluated.