Salmon netting. (Photo: Ministry of Environment, NASF)
Norway asked to reduce salmon netting
Thursday, February 16, 2012, 03:50 (GMT + 9)
The Russian Government and the European Union (EU) Fisheries Commission support the North Atlantic Salmon Fund's (NASF) campaign to curb Norwegian salmon netting. Since 1994, NASF and its international partners have pushed to close the Norwegian commercial salmon fishery in Finnmark because of the nets' environmental impact.
NASF members believe nets are ruining Norway's rivers and taking native salmon to rivers in Russia and Finland. A recent study found that 60-70 per cent of the biggest salmon killed by Norwegian nets are Russian and Finnish.
These fish spend two or more winters at sea and return in the spring. Their numbers have plummeted in recent years and they are now the most threatened portion of the North Atlantic's salmon population, yet Norway has been ignoring the international consensus that they should not be fished until their numbers recover, NASF said.
The international NASF coalition has argued that the nets off Finnmark violate the UN Law of the Sea, Art. 66.
Russian authorities recently sent Norway a warning letter making similar complaints, including protests against the interceptory mixed-stock fisheries allowed to operate within the Varanger fjord environment and the use of a particularly lethal method that involves bend nets (krogarn). Krogarn is banned nearly all over the world and bend netting is illegal in other areas of Norway.
”The Russian Federation is deeply disappointed by the proposals of the Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management to not only maintain the regulations that were in place for the salmon sea fisheries in coastal waters of Northern Norway in 2011, but to weaken the restrictions for this fishery be increasing its duration in the beginning of June by one more day per week”, wrote Deputy Head of Department for International Cooperation in Russia's Federal Agency for Fisheries V Chiklinenkov, Barents Observer reports.
Authorities fear that ongoing krogarn off Finnmark will cause irreparable damage to the salmon populations that spawn in Russian rivers.
The EU is citing poor biological levels of salmon in Finnish rivers. The Norwegian Government is also failing to protect the Neiden river that empties into the Varangerfjord near the Kola peninsula, NASF wrote.
“For the last 18 years the Minister and staff of the department of the Enviroment in Oslo have been well aware of the damage Norwegian nets have been doing. This has resulted in much reduced incomes for the Saami and other local people of Finland and for the Russians who live in the Kola region. To make matters worse Norway is proposing to lengthen the fishery's annual open”, NASF stated.
NASF invests large sums protecting wild Atlantic salmon everywhere from commercial exploitation by compensating professional fishers who give up fishing the species.
By Natalia Real