Further development of the Swedish fishery and fisheries management

Post war-1970s - modernisation and expansion and depletion of the herring fishery

There was no need for fishing quotas during the Second World War (see above), but the quota system was resumed after the war. New technology such as eco-sounder, synthetic net materials and navigational instruments boosted the development of the fisheries. Fishing expanded up to a peak in 1964. Landings of herring dominated the fisheries, both in terms of quantity and value. Landings were mainly carried out in the Danish ports in Northern Jutland. The fishermen were doing well, the quota system was solid and there was good compliance. Catches in the last haul beyond the set quotas could be landed, but the payment from this surplus was then donated to the Seaman’s Church.

In the latter part of the 1960s a growing concern for the sustainability of the herring stocks emerged amongst many fishermen. There was a clear decline in catches, but leading scientists within ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) could not agree on whether this was due to natural fluctuation or overfishing (Ask et al., 2015). Between 1968 and 1970 a large part of the Swedish herring fleet on the west coast was sold. The decline in the Swedish fishery coincided with an expansion in industrial production in Sweden with good work opportunities for former fishermen.

The quota system for herring imploded in the 1970s as some larger fishing vessels left the organisation and the quota system. They found the quotas too small and the system too limiting. This undermined the credibility and the foundation of the system.

The 1970s - establishment of modem fisheries management

During the 1970s the conditions for fishing and fisheries management changed fundamentally. With the drastic decline in the North Sea herring stock a quota (TAC, Total Allowable Catch) was for the first time introduced in 1974 by NEAFC (North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission) which was established in 1959. This was the first time there were public restrictions on landed quantities. The fishermen’s organisations, such as SVC, were trusted to allocate individual quotas for their members.

For the Baltic, the International Baltic Sea Fishery Commission (IBSFC) was established in 1974 and quotas (TAC) for the Baltic were introduced for herring and sprat in 1977.

Through the creation of exclusive economic fishing zones (EEZ) Sweden was excluded from traditional fishing grounds in the North Sea, but it gained exclusive rights to considerable parts of the Baltic Sea.

To support the restructuring of the Swedish fishing industry, the Swedish Board of Fisheries provided funds in 1976—1980 for research projects to investigate fishing on alternative species to herring, such as tobis. These research projects were carried out by the Institute of Marine Research of the Swedish Board of Fisheries in cooperation with fishermen’s organisations using mostly fishing vessels for the trials. There was a close and open dialogue and cooperation between fishermen, scientists and the fishery'' administration.

In 1977 the herring fishery in the North Sea was closed. This opened the market for the Baltic herring which compensated for the loss of North Sea herring. The Board of Fishery was active in supporting the west coast fleet to start fishing herring in the Baltic sea. This also gave a boost to the east coast fleet.

The 1980s — the Baltic cod boom

With more nutrients in the Baltic, the stocks of cod, herring and sprat had increased substantially between the 1950s and the 1970s. Moreover, during several years with favourable conditions for cod reproduction, due mainly to strong inflows of water from the western waters, the Baltic yielded exceptionally large cod populations between 1976 and 1982. These formed the basis for the considerable growth in the Baltic cod fishery between 1980 and 1985. For decades the cod fishery had traditionally been dominated by trawlers, but later in the 1970s the number of gillnet fishing boats expanded. There were extensive fisheries carried out by all the Baltic States.

The first international quotas (TAC) for the Baltic cod came as late as 1989. However, prior to that, the Swedish fishery organisations applied voluntary landing quotas in order to balance the fishing with market demand.1

The dialogue between fishermen’s organisations and the Board of Fisheries gradually involved more conflicts concerning the management. In the early 1980s a licencing system was introduced to limit fleet capacity but on the other hand the Boards of Fisheries was active in supporting the modernisation of the fleet.

s — a chaotic cod fishery, Swedish accession to the EU and the Common Fisheries Policy

During the 1990s the Baltic still played an important role for the Swedish fishing industry as the cod fishery was reduced but the pelagic (herring and sprat) fishery expanded. In the cod fishery most of the Soviet (and the later independent Baltic states and Poland) cod fleets were converted to large-scale gillnetters at the end of 1980s. Unfortunately, this gillnet fishery initially targeted the larger-sized cod. This had a severe impact on the cod population and a negative impact for the reproduction of cod.

The fill of the ‘iron curtain’ in 1989 meant a drastic shift for the Baltic states within the former USSR and Poland, from a centralised production system where production and management were integrated within the same organisational structure, into a new structure with independent production units and a separate independent fisheries management structure. This restructuring took time and the fisheries administration was for some periods non-existent:

... intensity of the fishery increased further with the introduction of a gillnet fishery at the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s. The reported landings in 1992—1995 are known to be incorrect due to incomplete reporting. The extent of unreported landings in 1992—1995 reflects a chaotic situation in the fishery and problems in enforcing regulations at that time (ICES Advice, 1999).

Sweden joined the EU in 1995 and thereby adopted the management package of the EU Common Fisheries Policy consisting of three main policy areas: fisheries management; market and trade; structural adjustment of the sector, (the latter a comprehensive subsidy program). This resulted in support for a modernisation of the fishing industry which on the one hand enhanced capacity of the fleet, but on the other hand was negative for the management of the resource.

The resource management became more centralised and uniform in structure and this distanced and weakened stakeholder involvement and created a sense of alienation. However, the fishery could bypass the system by directly approaching the national governmental representatives involved in the EU work in order to present their views.

EU reform in 2002

The shortcomings of the Common Fisheries Policy and the fisheries management were expressed in the Green Paper published by the Commission of the European Communities (2001), followed by the refonn of the Common Fisheries Policy in 2002. A more coherent fisheries management system was introduced, combining traditional fisheries management tools (catch limits, gear restrictions, etc.) with a more effective fleet policy in order to ensure a balance between fishing effort and resource availability. Subsidies were reduced, and the fisheries management moved towards a more long-term management perspective and a wider ecosystem approach. Moreover, in order to establish a more open dialogue and to involve more stakeholders, from the fishing industry and environmental NGOs and other interests, Regional Advisory' Councils (RACs) were introduced. Their roles were to advise EU Commission and Member States on fisheries management for specific regional areas.

EU Common Fisheries Policy reform 2013

Later, it turned out that the 2002 refonn was not enough. The EU Commission analysed the situation in its Green Paper from 2009, and identified five structural failings:

... fleet overcapacity; imprecise policy objectives resulting in insufficient guidance for decisions and implementation; a decision-making system that encourages a short-term focus; a framework that does not give sufficient responsibility to the industry; and lack of political will to ensure compliance and poor compliance by the industry. Further documenting, deciding, implementing and controlling the vast and diverse European fisheries through such micromanagement is increasingly complex, difficult to understand and very' costly to manage and control ... (Commission of the European Communities, 2009).

The Common Fisheries Policy refonn from 2013 was in many aspects more radical. The resource management structure acquired multispecies multiannual plans focused on Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY). It reinforced the role of science and improved the collection of data and sharing of information (EU, 2013). A landing obligation (discard ban) was introduced which completely shifted the focus from, as in the past, when the fishermen were forced by the EU to throw back into the sea all fish unintentionally caught outside allocated quotas, to instead land ah the fish caught. It also introduced a decentralised regional governance, bringing some of the policy formulations and decision processes closer to the fishing sector. It aimed to simplify the technical measures regulation whereby EU legislators should define the general framework while the Member States at regional level should cooperate and develop the implementing measures. The advisory councils (ACs) with the stakeholders involved were anticipated to play an active advisory role in this process.

The current EU management system is considered complex and costly for the member states. In an international comparison Sweden has one of the most expensive fisheries administrations in relation to the landed value of the catches (OECD 2015).

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