RIGA - Latvian fishermen say they are shocked at the European Commission’s latest proposals regarding fishing quotas in the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga next year, said Latvian Fisheries Association head Inarijs Voits in an interview with Latvian State Radio on Sept. 29, reports Nozare.lv. Voits sharply criticized Latvian biologists, whose forecasts and estimates served as a basis for the European Commission’s proposals. He also warned that if the Commission’s proposals are implemented, many more Latvian fishing trawlers will have to be sold for scrap, whereas prices for fish will increase in stores.
“This is the first year when the European Commission has proposed such dramatic cuts,” said Voits.
Already this year, the sprat fishing quota was reduced 22 percent, and now it is to be further cut 26 percent next year. “This means that, in fact, half of our sprat fleet is not needed,” said Voits, adding that the Commission’s suggestions would seriously affect 41 percent of the Latvian fishing fleet.
Other fishing quotas are also to be reduced significantly: Atlantic herring quota by 33 percent in the Baltic Sea and by 21 percent in the Gulf of Riga; the salmon fishing quota by 87 percent.
Voits believes that the latest proposals are grossly in error. During the interview, Voits angrily slammed Latvian biologists, whose estimates were the basis for developing proposals for new fishing quotas. Voits has on many occasions met with the scientists, asking if they realized what effect their work had on the Latvian fishing industry, and in which the scientists had been asked to present cautious forecasts.
“Latvian scientists are destroying Latvia’s fishing industry,” said Voits, adding, “I have always said, on all levels, that we do not need such scientists.”
Voits emphasizes that fisheries is a key industry for Latvia, the industry’s exports have reached “a fantastic level” with the amount of exports per fisherman reaching 56,000 lats (80,000 euros) a year, while the average figure in the Latvian economy is less than 17,000 lats per worker.
Latvian fishing companies continue the development and buying of new equipment. Even in a worst case scenario, Latvian fishing companies will continue operations and raise their products’ added value by increasing fish processing volumes. This means that five to six fish canneries could go bankrupt.
The Commission’s proposals for fishing quotas in the Baltic Sea in 2012 were presented on Sept. 15. The aim of the proposals is to ensure sustainability of the fishing industry in the Baltic Sea, from both the environmental and economic standpoints.