Tuesday, 13 September 2022 10:46

RETROUT – Sustainable Fishing Tourism in the Baltic Sea

Written by  Let's Communicate

The EU has identified the blue growth sector as one of the most promising for sustainable economic growth in the Baltic Sea Region. Fish production in the Baltic Sea does not reach its full potential due to human activities, such as overfishing, pollution, exploitation of coastal habitats, and physical deterioration of coastal rivers.

For a decade, efforts have been made to restore fish stocks in the Baltic Sea, nevertheless, commercial stocks of cod, herring, and salmon have been still on decline. Therefore, the European Commission approved proposals to restore the fish population by introducing the restrictions on fishing in the Baltic Sea starting in 2023. RETROUT project manager Håkan Häggström believes that the suggested EU nature restoration law may improve the situation and help to restore more of the deteriorated rivers and marine habitat.

RETROUT project turned to be useful when drawing the attention to the Baltic Sea fish population and possibilities for improving the current state. The aim of the project was the development, promotion, and sustainable management of the Baltic Sea Region as a coastal fishing tourism destination. The project, funded by the Interreg Baltic Sea Region programme, was a joint venture of 14 partners and 28 associate organizations in Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland.

The possibilities for a large fishing tourism sector in the Baltic Sea Region are large, however the potential still remains untapped. The project identified several factors for the unused potential and tried to find solutions to the following issues:

  1. The fish population in the Baltic Sea are often too small to form the basis for growing fishing tourism. For some of the most popular sport fishing species, such as sea trout and salmon, the scarcity is partly due to deteriorated spawning sites for the fish. Both species reproduce in rivers, but dams, the removal of stones and logs from the rivers, as well as straightening and culverting of the rivers have destroyed the natural river habitat. Dams, e.g. hydroelectric power plants, make a large part of the rivers inaccessible for spawning fish. Physical alterations of the rivers make them less suitable for spawning fish, resulting in poor survival of the fry (young fish).

  2. Authorities of the Baltic Sea countries are aware of those problems, therefore, the improvement of the situation is necessary for fulfilling the obligations of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). However, the pace of river restorations in the Baltic Sea Region (and in all of Europe) has been too slow.  The countries will not meet the environmental goals of the WFD with the present level of activity. The slow pace was explored in the project. It designed and performed river restoration projects and studied the process leading to the final result to identify success factors and pitfalls.

  3. The EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region has pointed out tourism as an important sector within the Blue Growth economy. To expand fishing tourism in the Baltic Sea, fishing guides, hotels, and other SMEs in the tourism sector need to develop export-ready fishing trip packages. The desired outcome of this is to attract tourists from other parts of Europe and hopefully increase the financial performance of local SMEs in the fishing tourism sector. In addition, more fishing guides need to be encouraged to start a business. To reach these results, each participating country launched destination development programs and pilot sites.

RETROUT Project carried out river restoration projects in 14 rivers in five Baltic Sea Region countries. The projects included the design and building of fish passes and habitat improvement activities. The latter included replacing gravel, boulders, and logs in the rivers to create a more natural habitat. The post-project measurements have shown a positive impact and an increased number of fish in the rivers.



Example of a river restoration project.


Take a look at the network of the Baltic Sea fishing guides:

To find out more, watch the RETROUT project movie BLUE CHANGE.

For those who are interested in knowing more about the outcome of the project and keeping an eye on the news, follow balticseafishing.com.


Read 1025 times Last modified on Tuesday, 13 September 2022 11:10