Eurofish magazine 3 2014

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Page 27


Fisheries and aquaculture in Latvia

Crisis in east casts shadow on export sector The fisheries sector in Latvia is a traditional occupation based on old customs and long experience. Today the situation in the industry is characterised by being at the crossroads between two financial programming periods, the new rules of the game set by the reformed EU Common Fisheries Policy, the consequences of the world economic crisis, and the influence of the political and economic relationship EU-Russia-Ukraine.


uring the last few years fisheries share in the gross domestic product (GDP) has been stable around 0.7. The total export volume has increased after the crisis. However, exports have decreased as a proportion of total exports, because the market for other products increased more. Fisheries share in Latvia’s total export was 2. Eurofish met with leaders of the Latvian fisheries sector to get an update on developments.

Undersized cod poses problems for fishers Fishing activities in the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga mainly depend on the state of stocks, which are simultaneously affected by fishing activities in the Baltic Sea, fish feeding conditions, water temperature, water pollution levels and similar factors. During 2013 total catches in the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga amounted to 60,997 t (main species were cod, Baltic herring, sprat, etc.), which is an increase of almost 525 tonnes compared to 2012. It is important to note that, on average, 96 the quotas allocated to herring and sprat were utilised, which is a very good performance indicator. On the other hand, only 18 of the

available salmon catch quota was utilized. Low use of salmon quota is related to the prohibition on drift nets and a market situation dominated by Norwegian salmon. Another serious problem that increasingly influences the salmon fishery, especially in the coastal zone, is seals that damage catch and gears making the fishery inefficient. The cod quota was exhausted by 35 during 2013. This trend of decreasing catches continues from 2012. However, the decrease is not caused by the TAC, but relates to the low outcome from fishing operations. According to the fishermen the fish has become small and skinny, and even more cod has “disappeared” from the traditional fishing grounds.

Coastal fishers are diversifying activities In the beginning of 2012 Latvia’s fishing fleet consisted of more than 700 fishing vessels. These vessels are divided into various segments. There were 628 fishing vessels on 01.01.2014 in Latvia’s fishing fleet authorised to fish in the coastal waters of the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga. The total engine power of the coastal fishing fleet is 4,641 kW or 11 of the total capacity of Latvia’s fishing fleet. The gross tonnage of this segment is 773 GT or 2.6. Most of them have an overall length not more than 5 m and operate without an engine. Mainly stationery fishing gears – different seines and pots – are used in the coastal fisheries. Catches in the coastal fisheries depend

on the total quota allocated to Latvia. Coastal fisheries are also a part of the traditional coastal landscape. Although with some changes nowadays, this landscape still works as a tourist attraction. Some coastal fishermen are working hard to diversify their activities, by including tourism (angling in the sea; participation in fishing, engagement in fish preparation, etc.), agricultural activities, and services. Some coastal fishermen are also involved in fish processing, but mainly for the domestic market. The main problem in the coastal fishing area is seals that cause damages to catch and gear. The seal population has rapidly increased during the last few years due to robust protection measures. Hunting them is prohibited, therefore fishers are

Catches in the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Riga 2013 Baltic Sea and Gulf of Riga

Coastal area










Use of quota (%) 35%

Salmon (pieces/t)





Baltic herring












not applicable



not applicable



not applicable

Flounder Turbot Other species



Source: Ministry of Agriculture

Eurofish Magazine 3 / 2014