Fermented Herring Weapon in the EU's Fishing Battle

23 October, 2023

A battle for fermented Baltic herring and small fishermen, the government believes when it now takes up the fight against the EU Commission’s proposal to stop herring and sturgeon fishing in the Baltic Sea.

Heavy night mangling awaits in Luxembourg.

”Surströmming” premiere in Kallax 2016. The government is now worried that next year’s catch quotas will affect supplies to the fermented Baltic herring-industry. Photo: Susanne Lindholm/TT Stock photo.

Even in normal cases, it usually takes a long time for the fisheries ministers of the EU countries to agree on future catch quotas. Before 2024, however, the situation is even tougher, as the commission wants to stop all directed fishing for herring in the central Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia.

Only by-catches in other fishing shall be allowed, with reference to the threatened stocks.

Swedish resistance

-But it risks going completely wrong, says Rural Affairs Minister Peter Kullgren (KD).

-We from the Swedish side are very careful that we need to keep the quotas down, while at the same time we don’t want it to just be bycatch. Because those bycatch will largely be taken by those who are out trawling for other things, such as sprat, says the minister on the way to this week’s crucial – and likely long – EU meeting in Luxembourg.

Other fishing countries also dislike the Commission’s proposal, although opinions differ on how much should be allowed to be fished. The battle still risks dragging on as there is pure EU jurisprudence to take into account, so that the quota decisions can stand on a legal basis.

Rural Affairs Minister Peter Kullgren on his way to Monday’s EU meeting in Luxembourg. Photo: Wiktor Nummelin/TT

Threatened fermented herring?

The government sees the quota proposal as a sign that the commission “doesn’t have a clue” of how targeted fishing works and believes that it is needed to maintain the culture of coastal communities. Among other things, it concerns deliveries to the manufacturers of fermented Baltic herring.

-These are incredibly small volumes in comparison. Sweden is prepared to have a very low fishing opportunity, if we protect the fishing that is for human consumption. I think that many people, not least along the coast of Norrland, do not want to be part of the EU stepping in and deciding that we should not keep our “surströmming”, says Peter Kullgren in Luxembourg.

Here is the EU Commission’s updated proposal for catch quotas for fishing in the Baltic Sea in 2024:

Herring in the Bothnian Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia: 1,000 tonnes, by-catch only (2023: 80,047 tonnes)

Western Baltic herring: 394 tonnes, by-catch only (2023: 788 tonnes)

Central Baltic herring: 28,550 tonnes, by-catch only (2023: 70,822 tonnes)

Herring in the Gulf of Riga: 36,514 tonnes (2023: 45,643 tonnes)

Eastern Baltic cod: 595 tonnes, by-catch only (2023: 595 tonnes)

Western Baltic cod: 136 tonnes, by-catch only (2023: 489 tonnes)

Plaice: 11,313 tonnes (2023: 11,313 tonnes)

Herring: 171,815 tonnes (2023: 224,114 tonnes)

Salmon in the Baltic Sea proper: 53,967 (2023: 63,811)

Salmon in the Gulf of Finland: 10,144 (2023: 9,455)

Source: EU Commission.

Text: Wiktor Nummelin/TT
Photo: Susanne LindholmTT/Wiktor Nummelin/TT

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