Russia and EU Join Fight Over Norwegian Salmon Netting

As well as ruining Norway‘s own rivers the nets are taking salmon native to rivers in Russia and Finland. A recent international scientific study has established that between 60 and 70% of the biggest salmon killed by Norwegian nets belong to Russia and Finland.

These are fish that spend two or more winters at sea and return during the spring months. Their numbers have greatly declined in recent years and they now form the most threatened component of the entire salmon population of the North Atlantic. In many countries they are protected but Norway continues to ignore the international consensus that they should not be killed until their numbers greatly increase.

The international NASF coalition fighting to convince the Norwegian government that it is killing off the most valuable component of the wild salmon stocks of three countries has argued that the nets off Finnmark are a violation of the UN Law of the Sea, art. 66. Now the Russian authorities have sent Norway a warning letter making similar complaints.

The Russian letter includes protests against the interceptory mixed-stock fisheries that are allowed to operate within the sensitive Varanger fjord environment and the use of a particularly lethal method that involves bend nets (krogarn). This form of fishing is now banned virtually all over the world and bend netting is also illegal in other areas of Norway. It is feared that if it is allowed to continue off Finnmark it will cause irreparable damage to the salmon populations that spawn in Russian rivers.

The EU is also complaining to Norway, citing the poor biological levels of salmon in Finnish rivers. Salmon native to these rivers are all targeted by the netting. The Norwegian Government also fails to protect the glorious Neiden river that empties into the Varangerfjord near the Kola peninsula.

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 .

The North Atlantic Salmon Fund spends large sums protecting wild Atlantic salmon everywhere from commercial exploitation by compensating professional fishermen who give up salmon fishing. Its chairman, Orri Vigfusson, said:  “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 Litza, the Zolitaya and the mighty Yokanga. This greedy and thoughtless Norwegian policy must be stopped.“

The North Atlantic Salmon Fund, NASF,  is an international coalition of voluntary private sector conservation groups who have come together to restore stocks of wild Atlantic salmon to their historic abundance. –   

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