Today, Norwegian authorities issued the 2010 salmon sea netting regulations. As expected the slaughter of vulnerable wild salmon stocks will continue, with Finnmark in the far north the hardest hit area of all especially in the mighty Tana river . In the regulations, Norway tries to conceal the extirpation of the big female spawners in June in exchange for few small male salmon later in the season. Not just Norwegian salmon stocks will suffer but also salmon stocks native to the rivers in Finland and Russia. Last year Norway’s salmon catches were at an all time low despite endless warnings to the Norwegian authorities issued by scientists, angling, tourist and conservation organisations.
The situation has become a serious contradiction of Norway’s claims to be an environmental role model. Excessive commercial fishing and the havoc caused, in the form of disease, sea lice plagues and mass escapees from crowded pens, by Norway’s largely unregulated salmon farming industry is greatly undermining Norway’s reputation.
Recently, the Russian Government issued its third diplomatic warning that Norway was violating the United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty by intercepting Russian and Finnish salmon along the Finnmark coast. The Russians called on Norway to stop the commercial netting in the Varanger fjord and remove all the bend nets (Krogarn) along the Finnmark coast.
In continuing to allow its commercial fishermen to exploit mixed stocks of wild salmon of Norwegian, Russian and Finnish origin, Norway is in danger of provoking further international actions. Already, Greenland and the Faroe Islands have reduced their salmon netting and long-lining down to zero levels in desperate attempts to revitalize stocks in their neighbor countries. The Norwegian decision announced today now makes a mockery of these international initiatives.
“Among Norwegian parliamentarians, there is a complete absence of a strategic debate about wild salmon”, said Orri Vigfússon, chairman of the North Atlantic Salmon Fund. “If Norway wants to become a global salmon power to rival Russia and Iceland then it needs to stop acting like an environmental vandal and start treating its dwindling salmon resource with the care and protection it deserves. Now!”