Regarding the invasion of the round goby into Latvian waters

The round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) which has appeared near the shores and in the open waters of Latvia has been first detected in April 2004 north of Liepāja, near the shores of Šķēde.As it can be expected, currently the population of this species of fish has reached the number of several millions or even more in the entire region of the Baltic Sea as well as the western and southern part of the Gulf of Riga. During the commercial and exploratory fishing, through the months from April to June in 2013–2016, more than 1 kilogram of this type of fish has been detected in the catch retained during one case of fishing (during the period up to 12 hours) in 1- meter net; this confirms that there are approximately thousands of tons of this species of fish and the number is approaching to the level of cod caught at the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea.We are repeatedly trying to draw attention to these changes in sea waters which will inevitably cause an ecological disaster. From the environmental point of view, the decrease in the population of blue mussel and other crustaceans will increase eutrophication, reduce water transparency, and level of oxygen, which in its turn affects the conditions of the spawning of herrings and other species of fish spawning near the coast. In terms of fishery, in the interspecific competition for food which is now taking place, local species of fish like flounder, marine burbot, vimba, flatfish of the family Scophthalmidae and many other species of freshwater fish which migrate for food to the sea in spring and summer. The impact of carnivorous fish (perch, cod, eel, pike, turbot) is episodic and insignificant. In other aspects, the rapid decrease in the population of ducks hibernating in winter, for example the numbers of long-tailed ducks, is taking place which in its turn results in favourable conditions and growth in the number of cormorants and seals, as for them the round goby is an easily accessible food source.On 10-11 May 2016, the fishermen of the coast of Liepāja district have terminated the fishery of gobies in the sea. In other locations, their fishery has just started. Latvian Farmers Federation (LZF) does not have exact data about the numbers of this fish caught; however, we have calculated that since the beginning of April, hundreds of tons have been caught and it exceeds the data on fishery of 2015. The time has come to do it in full capacity; however, gobies caught at sea are needed neither for export nor for processing. Fishmeal can be provided for no more than 0.10 cents per kilogram. Fishing gobies at sea is a hard work, especially when fishing with nets; it only pays off when the price is no less than 0.50 eurocents per kilogram.We hereby request to find ways how to reduce the existing difference in price by applying funding from the European Funds or other means as it has been applied for fishermen fishing at sea (groups of producers) that catch sprats and herrings, as well as to prepare other solutions to promote intensive fishery in order to reduce the estimated disastrous effect of this invasive species to the marine ecosystem. Sincerely,Association „Latvijas Zvejnieku federācija”chairman                                                                                                                  Ē.Urtāns
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