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Government proposal to ban salmon fishing in the River Tenojoki submitted to Parliament

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
Publication date 21.4.2022 14.02 | Published in English on 22.4.2022 at 13.32
Press release
Kuva: Jaakko Vähämäki

The government proposal to ban salmon fishing in the River Tenojoki in 2022 was submitted to Parliament at the government plenary session on Thursday 21 April 2022. According to the proposal, this year no salmon fishing would be allowed in the River Tenojoki or its tributaries.

The reason for the total ban is the very dramatic decline in the River Tenojoki salmon populations since 2018. It has been estimated that at the moment any salmon fishing would be overfishing. The numbers of salmon returning from the sea are so small that the sustainability targets will not be met even if there were no fishing at all. Besides this, the estimates concerning the numbers of bigger female parent salmon that have lived in the sea for several years are very weak. 

Based on estimates by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the status of salmon populations in the tributaries of the River Tenojoki is also quite alarming. The status of the salmon populations in the tributaries of the River Tenojoki has deteriorated significantly since the legal case concerning the year 2017 was assessed by the Supreme Court. Like the other tributaries, the salmon population of the River Utsjoki no longer meets the sustainability targets. 

Since the River Tenojoki is a border river between Norway and Finland, decisions on salmon fisheries must be made together with Norway. Attempts have been made to negotiate a solution on a very small fishing opportunity for salmon that would allow fishing with traditional fishing gear on a limited number of days. These attempts failed, however, as none of the options have proven feasible. In practice it is very difficult to divide a very small fishing opportunity between several groups of fisheries and fishing methods. In particular, the proposals concerning this kind of fishing opportunity did not win the support of local fishing right holders who use traditional weirs based on the Sámi fishing culture. Another challenge related to a very limited fishing opportunity is that fishing pressure is likely to be targeted very strongly to areas where fishing is allowed, which increases the risk that the status of the local salmon populations will deteriorate even further. 

In this challenging situation, the fishing opportunities for other fish species will be increased, which means that next summer fishing in the River Tenojoki will be allowed with slightly less strict regulations than last year. Rod fishing of species other than salmon from a boat with permits for local fishers would be allowed, the grayling permit for tourists would allow the use of the more common class 6 fly fishing rod, and the net fishing regulations of other species would be eased towards the end of the summer. What is also noteworthy is that trout fishing will be allowed under regulations on fishing for species other than salmon. The aim is to develop diverse fishing in the River Tenojoki watercourse and to enhance the role of species other than salmon as food fish and in fishing tourism.

For the recovery of the River Tenojoki salmon population, research is also needed on pink salmon, which is an invasive alien species that is now present in the river. This summer the Natural Resources Institute Finland, together with the fishers in the River Tenojoki region, will carry out a project to investigate suitable ways and methods for catching pink salmon that are harmless to other salmon. The Natural Resources Institute Finland will also gather data on the behaviour of pink salmon juveniles now that the juveniles from spawning that took place last autumn are starting their migration to the sea. This is important because there is very little information about this life stage in the North Atlantic region.

Inquiries at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry: 

Vesa Ruusila, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 2951 62051, vesa.ruusila(at)gov.fi
Tapio Hakaste, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 2951 62152, tapio.hakaste(at)gov.fi

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