The project “Development of Co-operation of Small-Scale Fisheries Sector of the Baltic Sea Region, by applying the Exchange of Good Practice During Educational Meetings and Virtual Information Database Establishment Methods”, funded by the European Union funds, held the conference on the 17rd of November 2016 in Ustka (Poland), where the fishermen-businessmen from Lithuania and Poland, fishing in the Baltic Sea coast and internal waters, took part.
During the conference we introduced the project, its objectives and tasks, the issues discussed in the conference, which was held in Liepaja (Latvia) on the 23rd of August 2016, the LIFE (Low Impact Fishers of Europe) organisation, we were familiarised with the activity performed by the Polish fishermen and their fishing peculiarities.
The following issues, discussed in the conference in Liepaja (Latvia) on the 23rd of August 2016, were presented:
- Development of co-operation of the small-scale fisheries sector of the Baltic Sea Region.
- Spread of the invasive species - round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) - in the Baltic Sea coast.
- Harm from seals to the fishermen.
- Application of the fuel excise duties.
- While discussing the fishermen co-operation possibilities, the participants of the conference agreed that such co-operation is necessary and extremely important when the general fishermen issues, approved in the European Union institutions, are solved. It has also been emphasized that the companies in the small-scale fisheries sector have no representatives in the European Union institutions, which could discuss the issues relevant to the respective companies, and consequently the most frequently discussed problems concern only the biggest fishing companies.
- While presenting the problem raised by the Latvian fishermen regarding the spread of the invasive species - round goby, the Polish fishermen indicated that this type of fish also lives in their coastal waters, however, currently no actions are taken in order to reduce its spread, because the fishermen think it is a certain food web base of the cod that is caught. During the debates between the fishermen of Lithuania and Poland, the conclusion was made that the fishing methods in the coast of Poland differ from the ones in Lithuania and Latvia – Polish fishermen rely on the amount of cod that is caught (which makes up the majority of income of the fishing companies), while Lithuanian and Latvian fishermen create their income from different types of fish that are caught (flatfish, herring, etc.). It was made known that the Polish fishermen do not even use catchers (device that catches the majority of round goby), which is a very popular practice in Lithuania and Latvia.
- While presenting the problem raised by the Latvian fishermen regarding the harm from seals, the Polish fishermen emphasized the mentioned issue, which is very important to them. The participants of the conference were familiarised with specific losses, faced by the Polish fishermen due to the harm from seals, presented together with complementary pictures. The Lithuanian fishermen presented the mechanism used in Lithuania in order to compensate the harm from seals to the fishermen, however, all the participants jointly came to the conclusion that this solution to the problem does not reduce the increase in the seal population, and the joint innovative solutions in order to stop the spread of the seal population have to be applied in the Baltic states. According to the fishermen, the funds from the direct European Union assignations have to be assigned in order to solve this problem and to find new innovative means to fight it.
- During the conference, the Lithuanian fishermen expressed the opinion that micro-enterprises and macro-enterprises in the fishery business suffer discrimination regarding the applied exemptions for excise duties while purchasing fuel in comparison to bigger enterprises. It is because the fishermen that fish in coasts or internal waters have to use the boats with petrol engines. The Polish fishermen face no such problem, as the majority of their fishing boats run on diesel fuel, which can be purchased with the applied exemptions for excise duties.
In addition, during the conference the Polish fishermen highlighted the problem regarding the harm from cormorants. It was emphasized that the wide cormorant spread has an impact on the fishing business. This problem is also relevant to the fishermen fishing in the internal waters of Lithuania. According to the participants, the European Union institutions have to invest more in order to solve the mentioned problem.
While discussing the possibilities of co-operation with the fishermen in other countries, it was noted that the issue of purchasing boats and other fishing equipment is relevant to all the fishermen. It was also noted that the fishermen frequently has no sufficient funds to purchase the necessary equipment, so they look for used second-hand equipment in other countries. It would be very convenient to have an on-line website dedicated to fishermen where they could sell and buy second-hand equipment. This on-line website should involve several countries.
During the conference, the Baltic and the North Sea co-ordinator of the “Low Impact Fishers of Europe” organisation - Marcin Ruciński - introduced the represented organisation as well as its activity and performed works. (For more information about the organisation see: www.lifeplatform.eu).