The Baltic Sea Seal and Cormorant TNC project proceeds as planned. So far two major parts of the project have taken place.Firstly, an investigation has been made of 50 national research reports concerning seal and cormorant damages, concentrating on the measurement of the economic loss for the fishermen.Secondly, the first 230 interviews have been collected from Finland (5 FLAGs), Sweden (7 FLAGs), Germany (1 FLAG) and Estonia (1 FLAG). The questionnaire was quite comprehensive, and the fishermen gave their estimation on the economic loss, change of workload, loss of catch etc. caused by seals and cormorants. All the gathered information will be investigated by academics on a scientific level. We expect to get the first results early next spring.About the preliminary results can be said, that the situation is very serious and that there is a big variation in different areas. It seems that e. g. in Finland the income of the fishermen has dropped to an average of two thirds during the last 15 years. At the same time, one has had to invest a lot more on the equipment, and the workload has grown significantly – except for those who cannot put their gear in the sea in the autumn months because of the seals.The project has been presented in a couple of occasions recently: for Baltic Sea Advisory Council and in DG Mare -meetings.Three Finnish MEP:s, some MP:s and authorities visited Kotka, Finland, in the beginning of November. Esko Taanila, the manager of South Finland FLAG ESKO, got them interested in how to find new sustainable ways to save traditional small-scale fishery, and at the same time take care of the balance of the ecosystem.Last week, FLAG ESKO also introduced the project to the audience of the seminar Östersjöfisket 2020 (”The Baltic fishery in 2020”) at Simrishamn, Sweden, and got excellent feedback.
We got excellent news last week: fishermen from Poland and Denmark will join the project and answer the questionnaire. Those results will add considerably to the value of the project.We are working on a communication plan for next year. We shall introduce the results of this project to different actors, and also inform about the possibilities and the meaning of benefiting from our wonderful resource: sustainably caught local fish.