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Russia urges Norway to restrict salmon fishery

“Coastal fisheries for Atlantic salmon in Finnmark, where salmon of Russian origin are intercepted, must be regulated by more restrict measures,” writes the Federal Agency for Fisheries in an unusual strong letter to Norwegian authorities.

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The problem is that Norwegian fishermen with nets catch salmon that are migrating along the coast and the fjords of Finnmark towards Russian or Norwegian, Finnish rivers for breeding.

Fishing nets.
Salmon fishing net in a fjord in Finnmark. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

In a letter dated January 31, Deputy Head of Department for International Cooperation in Russia’s Federal Agency for Fisheries V. Chiklinenkov writes: “”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.” 

The dispute between Norway and Russia on coastal net fisheries catching salmon in Finnmark has been going on for nearly two decades. The North Atlantic Salmon Fund (NASF) points to a scientific study stating that between 60 and 70 percent of the biggest salmon catches by Norwegian nets belong to Russia and Finland.

The Russian letter is triggered by the Norwegian Directorate’s 2012 regulation for salmon sea fishery. The regulations does not allow for the protest from the Russian side. “Russia is gravely concerned by the interceptor mixed-stock fishery in Northern Norway, as killing quite a large number of migrating salmon,” the letter reads.

Chiklinenkov ends his letter by urging Norway to again restrict the regulations.

Wild salmon caught  in the Neiden river in Finnmark.
Wild salmon catch from the Neiden River. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Also the European Commission is concerned. An e-mail sent from Marco D’Ambrosio on behalf of the Commission in late January that BarentsObserver has got a copy of, recommends Norway to slow-down the pressure on the salmon stock that belongs to the Tenojoki (Tana) River. The Tana River is a border river between Norway and EU-member Finland.

River boat on Tana, on of the best salmon rivers in Europe.
Tana River boat used for salmon fishing. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

The European Commission says it is not desirable to uphold the in the current situation (sea fishery) where the salmon stocks in many salmon rivers in Finnmark are at a very low level.

Higher catches in this mixed-stock fishery would therefore adversely affect the stock originating in some EU rivers, notable in Finland,” the e-mail reads.

Tana River is together with Neiden River the two largest salmon rivers in Finnmark that Norway share with Finland.

Read alsoSave the wild salmon!

Chairman of the North Atlantic Salmon Fund, Orri Vigfusson says to BarentsObserver that the Norwegian greedy and thoughtless policy must be stopped.

We believe the netting could wipe out the large salmon of the Neiden River, and those of famous Russian watersheds like the Kola River, the Kharlovka, the Rynda, the Litsa, the Zolitaya and the mighty Yokanga rivers,” Orri Vigfusson says.