EAA position on
recreational fishing for Atlantic salmon in the Baltic in 2024
14 June 2023
Common position statement by the European Anglers
Alliance (EAA) for Baltic Sea salmon in 2023. The EAA is a pan-European
organisation for recreational angling, defending the interests of approximately
10 million anglers that go fishing every year.
The position statement was written by four EAA members that have a particular
interest regarding fishing opportunities for Atlantic Salmon in the Baltic Sea:
Deutscher Angelfischerverband e.V. (Germany), Sportfiskarna (Sweden),
Sportfiskerforbund (Denmark) and Suomen Vapaa-Ajankalastajat (Finland).
position paper - EAA position on recreational fishing for Atlantic salmon
in the Baltic in 2024
International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) published its catch
recommendations for Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in the Baltic Sea (SD´s
22-31) for the year 2024 on the 31st of May. The advice from ICES contains
suggestions for measures to strengthen and protect weak salmon river stocks by
closing the mixed stock sea fishery, both recreational and commercial in the
main basin. ICES advises that there should be zero catch of wild salmon in weak
rivers in AU 5 and in Ljungan in AU 3 in 2024. Furthermore, ICES advises that
if spatial-temporal management can be implemented, some fishing opportunities
would be possible.ICES considers that
if sea fishing can be confined to existing coastal fisheries during the spawning
migration (beginning of May to the end of August) in the Bothnian Bay, total
sea catch (both commercial and recreational) in this area of no more than 60
000 salmon could be taken.
All current scientific information including the latest ICES advice show clear
problems for several river stocks and that the majority of weak salmon
populations occur in assessment unit five in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and
Estonia. Together with ICES we believe that the current management involves a
risk for extinction of several weak river stocks. We are therefore in agreement
with ICES about the status of Baltic salmon and the need for strong salmon
management in the Baltic Sea region.
EAA response to ICES advice and following policy
the ICES advice for 2023, the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council decided to
limit the catch opportunities for Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in the Baltic
to one adipose fin-clipped fish per recreational angler per day. This decision
was based on a study showing that hooking mortality for fish released in the
trolling fishery is approximately 25% (Wertheimer, 1988 - 1).
However, this 34-year-old study is based on other species (coho and chinook
salmon, Oncorhynchus species) in a different environment/region (Hawk Inlet,
Gulf of Alaska, Pacific Ocean) and using different fishing gears. This study is
therefore not applicable for recreational trolling for salmon (Salmo salar) in
the Baltic Sea.
The European Anglers Alliance therefore believes
that a more appropriate study of mortality of released Baltic salmon in modern
trolling fishing is an important step in choosing the correct management
techniques for angling.
The European Anglers Alliance (EAA), national angling organisations and
individual anglers have always been deeply involved in the health and wellbeing
of our unique and iconic Baltic salmon. Angling organisations are actively
involved in the restoration of rivers and invest large amounts of time, money,
and energy into the goal of restoring rivers and salmon populations. All
anglers are well acquainted with, understand and respect regulations connected
to their fishery including daily harvest limits (bag limits), seasonal closures
and minimum size and slot limits. Angling keeps our members, a huge pool of
voluntary labour, motivated to be engaged in river restoration, water quality
monitoring and fisheries control. This stakeholder involvement is essential if
we want to keep European citizens involved and supportive in the wellbeing of
salmon and also the environment in general.
Associated with the social importance of angler engagement is the economic
importance of the recreational salmon fishery in the Baltic Sea. The trolling
fishery is an important sector for income and jobs for coastal communities
around the Baltic Sea. Research by the Thünen Institute of Baltic Sea Fisheries
(2022 - 2) has shown that German anglers spend 2 750 € per person
and year in the recreational salmon trolling fishery, a total expenditure of 5
million €, corresponding to 1 000 € per salmon harvested. A Survey by the
Finnish Federation for Recreational Fishing shows similar results with direct
investment of 3 461 € per trolling boat at a cost of 1 081 € per landed salmon
(Rautanen, 2018 - 3). The EAA believes that sea angling for Baltic
salmon, if regulated correctly, can have minimum effects on river stocks while
maintaining angling opportunities and associated regional economic activities.
The European Anglers Alliance wishes to clarify
that angling is not the reason behind rivers in assessment unit five having
weak salmon populations. The current
situation is caused by problems within river catchments such as migration
obstacles, cormorant predation and lack of spawning habitats that limit the
stock development. Anglers have a vested interest in Baltic salmon and agree
that it is important to change the current Baltic salmon management, but we
believe that European citizens right to get out onto the Baltic Sea, experience
the environment, fish and fishing should as much as possible be
maintained. Without angler engagement it will be very difficult to
maintain public investment in restoring wild salmon stocks, migration barrier
removal and river restoration. The EAA therefore believes that a bag
limit of one fish (wild or fin-clipped) per angler and day for sea anglers
south of latitude 59.30 N is an appropriate way to limit the effects of angling
upon assessment unit five stocks while maintaining anglers’ investment in the
restoration of rivers. For recreational fishing north of latitude 59.30 N the
EAA believes that trolling catch bags should not be bound by 4nm regulations
but subject to member state regulation.
EAA would like to underline the importance of increasing actions leading to the
free migration of salmon in rivers, both up and downstream, river restoration
and to prevent over exploitation by predators.
migrating fish have problems with small scale hydropower, disused mills, weirs,
and other man-made obstructions. If we are to reach our common goals for Baltic
salmon smolt production and thereby sustainably develop both the commercial
coastal and the recreational fishery for salmon, then we must prioritise removal
of barriers for fish migration. We therefore strongly support the EU
Biodiversity Strategy 2030 goal of removing migration barriers and restoring at
least 25 000 km of European rivers.
Another significant issue for weak salmon populations has been the exponential
growth of cormorant predation within rivers and estuaries along the Baltic
coast. Research conducted by the Danish Institute of Aquatic Resources
(DTU Aqua) shows mortality of wild salmon by cormorants of over 50% during
several consecutive years in salmon rivers (Jepsen et al., 2019 -4).
Predation of large numbers of salmon in a very short time by large flocks of
migrating cormorants can be especially problematic as this is difficult to
solve on a local or even national level highlighting the need for a European
cormorant management (5).
Therefore, the European Anglers Alliance suggests
the following regulations and actions concerning Baltic salmon for 2024:
- A bag
limit of one salmon (wild or fin-clipped) per angler and day for sea
anglers south of latitude 59.30 N.
trolling north of 59.30 N should be subject to member state regulation and
not be unnecessarily regulated by a 4 nautical mile boundary.
- A new
study of mortality of Atlantic salmon released after being caught via
trolling should be carried out.
demanding landing of whole un-filleted fish should only be for salmonids
(salmon and sea trout), not for other species such as pike, perch and
more EMFAF funding for the removal of fish migration barriers in the
- A Europe-wide
program should be initiated to achieve a balanced European management of
1- Wertheimer, A (1988). Hooking Mortality of
Chinook Salmon Released by Commercial Trollers. North American Journal of
Fisheries Management, 8(3), 346–355.
2- Thünen (2022)
3- Rautanen, J (2019). Merilohen uistelu
Suomessa 2017 (eng. Salmon trolling in Finland 2017). A Survey made by Finnish
Federation for Recreational Fishing (FFRF). Online publication in Issuu.
4- Jepsen, N, Flávio, H, & Koed, A (2019). The
impact of cormorant predation on Atlantic salmon and sea trout smolt survival.
Fisheries Management and Ecology, 26(2), 183-186.
EIFAAC (2022) Impact of cormorant predation on