Swedish fishermen satisfied with new management system

Switching the old system of weekly catch allowances for whole-year quotas has opened up a whole new world for Swedish fishermen, according to SFPO chairman Peter Olsson.

Kim Hansen

It’s a year since the new system started January 2017, with quotas tradable within the fleet, but within limits.

‘We wanted a system that wouldn’t drive us towards a smaller fleet,’ he said. ‘The fleet is already too small.’

The new arrangements allow a great deal more flexibility, both in terms of managing the whole year’s fishing by exchanging weekly allowances for a full-year quota, and also in making exchanges possible with individual quotas in the demersal fishery that are intertradeable during the year but not between years.

Pandalus Borealis

‘Weekly allowances and the discard ban don’t work,’ he said. ‘When you go fishing you might come back with a tonne of cod – or it might be ten kilos. You don’t have a clue how each day is going to be. But if you have 300kg allowance and you catch a tonne, what do you do with the rest?’

Under the new system, there are opportunities to cover any excess as others always have some quota to trade.

‘Now we have had the first full year of this and we are waiting for the authorities to evaluate what needs to be changed, and there are only small adjustments that we need to make,’ he said.

‘The authorities have been very supportive, once we persuaded them that this was what needed to be done – and that took a long time,’ he said and added that SFPO is now working towards a full ITQ system for the demersal fishery with active gears in Sweden as the next natural step.

‘I’m surprised that so many of the fishermen are happy with this. Normally there’s always someone who complains that it used to be better before, but I haven’t heard that,’ he said, but commented that there are some who found themselves at a disadvantage.

Some larger boats found themselves with too little quota and much of the coastal fleet had too much – and was unable to catch its entire allocation during the first year under the new regime. Replacing the previous days at sea regime for boats that fish year-round for shrimp (Pandalus borealis) left those fishermen with fewer opportunities, while those who alternate shrimp and roundfish found that they were better off.

‘If anything, we were too small-scale-friendly, and these are some of the adjustments that need to be made this year,’ he said.

‘I think that’s the way it is going to be in future, with some small adjustments that will need to be made every year.’