BALTFISH symposium on interactions between seals, fish and fisheries in the Baltic Sea

The BALTFISH symposium on interactions between seals, fish and fisheries in the Baltic Sea took place in Gothenburg on the 19th-20th March 2019.

The meeting was attended by Nils Höglund representing BSAC.

He reports: A very interesting symposium that gathered fisheries and seal researchers, Ministry representatives, HELCOM, NGO’s as well as flag and fisheries representatives around the same table. We were given very well-prepared talks divided into themes: the basic biology on the different seal and fish species in the Baltic, seal – fish interactions, seal -fish parasites, economic impacts of the seal populations and the work done on gear development. There will be an official report from the meeting by the organizer and the presentations will be shared as well.
The following is my own personal reflections from the meeting, from a fisheries representative’s view, from a country where the seal-fish interaction and the challenges connected to this have been present for a long time and where some management actions have already been taken.
The Baltic is, despite of being a small sea, still big, and we have huge regional differences. For example, in the number of seals, different types of fisheries, the impact of parasites, but also cultural differences. This means we need to adapt different solutions to different regions.

We also did two small group discussions on questions handed out, so that every group was answering the same questions. The discussions clearly showed how far apart different interest groups are from each other, and that this issue, like so many others when dealing with management of natural resources, would benefit from being facilitated by outside experts, especially if the aim is to get concrete steps forward.

For me, the most interesting talk was given at the end of the first day by Maria Johansson, a researcher in the field of environmental psychology. She was speaking about the emotional appraisal theory and the appraisal process – relevance – implication – coping potential – norm capability. Furthermore, she talked about how important it is with social trust and presented 14 co-existence strategies from one of her cases. The theories and practices from this field of study are already used in, for example, management of the large terrestrial mammals, and I think a lot could be learnt in the seal-fisheries interaction by looking into how things have been carried out on land.

This meeting was of course a first step to get everyone around the same table and a larger picture of where we are standing. I see it as essential that this is not left at this; the next step is to talk different strategies and steps forwards, that will give us concrete tools and actions. It was touched upon many times in the meeting that doing nothing is not an alternative.
HELCOM is arranging a meeting on seal in June, that hopefully will function as a follow up on the topics discussed at this meeting.


190506 Minutes for participants from BALTFISH symposium on Interaction seal fish fisheries 19 20 March 2019 (FINAL PDF)

Date Posted: March 20, 2019

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