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Fishing cards in Estonia to be switched to 7-day system from 2021

BC, Tallinn, 27.11.2020.Print version
Estonian Minister of the Environment Rain Epler signed a decree approving fishermen's fishing opportunities for 2021, the biggest change for the coming year will be the issuance of all Baltic Sea gillnet fishing cards for seven days of one's choice instead of the current duration of a calendar week, informs LETA/BNS.

"The transition from a calendar-based fishing card to a flexible seven-day card is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated changes for fishermen," Epler said in a press release.

"From the new year, it is no longer necessary to stick to specific days of the week when planning fishing and to buy two separate fishing cards for fishing lasting more than a weekend. For example, if you buy a card on a Thursday, it will be valid until the following Thursday," he added.

There will also be no need to panic about buying fishing cards in advance for the new year, because their deficit is no longer a threat, according to the ministry.

Herki Tuus, head of the fishery resources department of the Ministry of the Environment, said that experience has shown that the largest number of fishing cards at sea are taken out for gillnet fishing. "Ever since we switched to week-based fishing cards, there have been enough fishing opportunities for everyone," he said, adding that the transition to a seven-day system gives fishermen extra flexibility and is also a financial gain.

"While applying for fishing cards for next year will start on December 1, but we urge fishermen to purchase a fishing card only when the time to go fishing has actually arrived and vacation plans are in place," Tuus said. According to him, it is neither necessary nor reasonable to buy gillnet permits for fishing at sea in advance.

The transition to seven-day cards does not apply to small island fishermen or gillnet fishermen on Lake Peipsi -- for them, fishing cards for a longer period will still be valid.

Another important change of the new year is that the fishing opportunities for gillnets in inland waters, except for lakes Peipsi, Lammijarv and Lake Pskov, will be reduced by 10 percent. This will give fish stocks the opportunity to grow, as well as enable more fishing for those who fish mainly with longlines and spinning.

"Recreational fishing is becoming increasingly popular in Estonia," Epler said. "According to the latest figures, we have around 170 000 such fishermen. The needs of the largest share of fishermen must be increasingly taken into account, and the steps taken will gradually lead us to there being enough fishing opportunities for everyone," he added.

Minor changes are also expected in the new year when fishing on trout rivers and using fish traps. From next year, the so-called period cards, that is those fishing cards that could be purchased for the season from Feb. 1 to Sept. 14, will be done away with on the trout rivers of central Estonia.

The fishing burden on trout rivers is quite high and it is necessary to get an overview of the actual number of fishing days in order to better assess it. Therefore, one-day fishing permits can be purchased for the rivers there next year. As the number of these permits is not limited and the current practice shows that 99 percent of them are obtained electronically, there will be no new excessive complications for fishermen, the ministry said.

"An example of a smooth transition is to take from salmon rivers, which once also had periodical cards, but have now switched to short-term permits, which allow the fishing burden to be monitored and regulated," Tuus said.

As for fish traps, from 2021, fishermen will be able to use up to two fish traps on a single fishing card for a period of up to 48 hours. Fish traps' popularity has gradually grown from year to year, and the change will help make this gear even more popular.

According to the ministry, fish traps are a good alternative to gillnets, because it is easy to release undersized fish alive from there.

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