The RETROUT project had its mid-term meeting in Gdańsk, Poland from 8 to 9 May 2019, looking at achievements so far and the next steps to be taken.

 

“Work is progressing according to plans, although some challenges need to be tackled to reach the final goals by the end of the project in fall 2020,” said Håkan Häggström, the RETROUT Project Lead manager from the County Administrative Board of Stockholm, Sweden.

 

With special focus on sea trout, RETROUT seeks to promote and develop sustainable coastal fishing tourism in the Baltic Sea region. Fostering thriving fish populations is a key approach of the project, through enabling healthy and accessible river habitats for the natural reproduction of sea trout that will eventually lead to a larger stock size.

 

In the countries where it operates, the project also carries out a number of river restoration initiatives to improve the condition of sea trout populations. For example, one case study will focus on the renewal of the riverbed to increase nursery areas, while another project is working on building a new fish pass to facilitate the free movement of fish past migration obstacles.

 

“For healthy trout populations, rivers need to be protected and restored, for instance by removing migration hindrances and improving spawning grounds. We need to increase the efforts for securing self-sustaining and viable populations of migratory fish in the Baltic Sea”, said Henri Jokinen, the RETROUT Project manager at HELCOM.

 

In Gdańsk, HELCOM chaired the second day work group session for the RETROUT work package on ‘Assessment of status and management of sea trout rivers and stocks.’

 

This HELCOM-led work package focuses mainly on the ecological aspect of trout fishing, notably through assessing fish stock and river habitat status, and by evaluating river restoration practices to improve trout populations. The main results will be published as an assessment report and as a toolbox of best practices for river restoration in the Baltic Sea.

 

“So far, we have had a very useful workshop about sea trout assessment and monitoring methods last year, we have collected a nice data set of past river restoration cases and conducted a valuable amount of stakeholder interviews to learn about factors of success and failure in river restoration projects, and we advanced with the river restoration demonstration projects carried out in the project countries, to mention some of the achievements. We are in a good place to start on the next half of the project,” said Jokinen.

 

The HELCOM-led work in RETROUT is in line with the HELCOM 2013 Ministerial Agreements on salmon and sea trout, and supports the HELCOM Recommendation 32-33/1 ‘Conservation of Baltic Salmon (Salmo salar) and Sea Trout (Salmo trutta) populations by the restoration of their river habitats and management of river fisheries’.

 

In essence, the RETROUT project aims to stimulate sustainable economic and social development based on healthy ecosystems, reflecting the general HELCOM priorities.

With 14 partners from Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, and including HELCOM, RETROUT is a three-year Interreg project running until September 2020. RETROUT is a flagship project of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region Policy Area Bioeconomy. It is co-financed by the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme under the Natural resources priority field.

 

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For more information:

Henri Jokinen
RETROUT Project manager
henri.jokinen@helcom.fi