HELCOM suggests measures to restore salmon and sea trout river populations
Helsinki, 5 April (HELCOM Information Service) – The Helsinki Commission for the protection of the Baltic marine environment has presented the outcome of its groundbreaking project which identifies urgent measures to secure the survival of the seriously declined salmon and sea trout populations in rivers flowing into the Baltic Sea.
The project, code named SALAR (Project on the state of salmon (Salmo salar) and sea trout (Salmo trutta) populations in rivers flowing to the Baltic Sea), has made an inventory and classification of the historical and existing Baltic rivers with salmon and sea trout populations and recommended measures for their conservation and the restoration of their river habitats.
SALAR is part of the strategic HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan to radically reduce pollution to the sea and restore the good ecological status of the marine environment by 2021. The project has been funded through a co-financing agreement between the European Commission (DG MARE) and HELCOM, and the final report has been peer-reviewed through an agreement with ICES.
“The main results of the SALAR Project are the recommendations for the improvement of the status of Baltic salmon and sea trout populations and their rivers,” says Anne Christine Brusendorff, HELCOM’s Executive Secretary. “These results allow for the development of international and national programs for funding and systematic implementation of the recommended actions. A recovery of migratory salmonid populations is a vital part of our work to preserve and restore biodiversity in the Baltic Sea region.”
The catchment area of the Baltic Sea is much larger than the sea area itself. As a consequence numerous rivers and streams have formed to channel water to the sea. These flowing freshwater habitats support migratory salmon and sea trout populations that are an essential part of the biodiversity in the Baltic region.
There are about 40 salmon and 500 sea trout populations that reproduce in rivers of the Baltic region including the Kattegat. Roughly half of the populations of both species are in urgent need of recovery. Salmon and sea trout are vulnerable fish due to their complex life-cycle and attractiveness to fishermen. Their need for healthy freshwater habitats makes them vulnerable for many factors such as habitat degradation, migratory barriers, climate change and excessive fishing.
The SALAR Project defined that a reproduction of less than 50% of the potential smolt production capacity is critically low and that the target level should be 80% or more. Salmon and sea trout populations in the category under 50% are put on a red list and they should be prioritised for recovery measures. In 2010 red listed salmon and sea trout populations were found in all basins of the Baltic Sea including the Kattegat.
Some salmon populations are only maintained in rearing facilities and used for the production and release of smolts. Their native river has in many cases been blocked by hydropower plants. There are also unfortunate cases where original salmon populations have been totally lost, but their former rivers still have large potential for salmonid production. The SALAR project recommends that when it is justified the original salmon populations should be re-established in their native rivers and that former salmon rivers with large production potential should be mobilised for salmonid production.
The outcome of the SALAR Project is a general report presenting an overview and giving recommendations for salmonid populations and river habitats. The general report is supplemented with eight reports on individual salmon and sea trout populations and rivers in each Baltic Sea country. All the reports and a GIS map of the Baltic salmon rivers are available at the HELCOM website http://www.helcom.fi/projects/on_going/en_GB/HELCOMSALAR/.
Note to Editors:
The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission, more usually known as the Helsinki Commission, or HELCOM, is an intergovernmental organisation of all the nine Baltic Sea countries and the EU which works to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution.
HELCOM is the governing body of the "Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area," known as the Helsinki Convention.
For more information, please contact:
Mr. Orian Bondestam
Fisheries Adviser, HELCOM
Ms. Miia Mannerla
Project Researcher, HELCOM
Tel: +358 (0)400 459 349
Fax: +358 (0)207 412 645
Mr. Nikolay Vlasov
Tel: +358 (0)46 850 9196
Fax: +358 (0)207 412 645