Sustainability is becoming an increasingly common topic of discussion in the field of fisheries management. Simplistically speaking, fishing can be considered to be ecologically sustainable when it is managed in such a way that the fish populations do not decline over time because of fishing practices. Even though the concept doesn’t seem too complicated practice has proven otherwise, especially when the economic and social aspects of sustainability are take into consideration.
Hilborn (2008) recognizes three elements that are typical for biologically, economically and socially successful fisheries around the world;  restricted access,  maintenance of biological productivity and  cooperation of stakeholders. Personally I believe that achieving long-term success in the first two elements often requires the third element to be present. This, based on my personal experience, makes cooperation of stakeholders the key element in successful fisheries management. Although the stakeholders, here in Finland for example, are often too busy promoting their own interest and incapable of compromising for the common good, we have several examples where cooperation of stakeholders has led to outstanding results as well.
This publication is conducted by Future Missions Oy as a part of Karelian ENPI CBC funded project IntellGreenBelt which, among other things, aims at promoting sustainable use of fish resources as well as fisheries development in the Green Belt of Fennoscandia. The publication consists of five separate articles which are introducing examples of successful fisheries management in Finland and Sweden. The articles are meant to provoke thoughts amongst fishermen and policy makers, not only in the project’s operating area, but beyond as well. Each of the five articles has a different approach to the subject but they all represent, what we believe is, sustainable fisheries management.
The first two articles are focused on northern pike which is a common catch for recreational fishermen and a popular game fish. The first article is based on a study about effects of size-selective fishing of pike conducted by the University of Helsinki. The second article, on the contrary, relies heavily on practical experiences and discusses the guiding principles of sustainable fishing tourism development in Sweden. Even though these two articles approach the subject of pike fishing from different perspectives they come to the same conclusion – In order to maintain good pike fishing opportunities and healthy ecosystem under heavy fishing pressure you need to protect the big ones.
The third article is a story of ordinary people who did something extraordinary for their local brook. As the article points out, significant results can be achieved through ambition, co-operation and hard work. Indeed, this case example is an epitome of the phrase “where there is a will there is a way”. The fourth article has a more societal approach and it combines experiences from various communication projects that have been carried out in East Finland area during the past few years. The article discusses how to influence decision making amongst different stakeholders. The results indicate that achieving a significant change in fisheries management requires continuous involvement and repetitive communication through different channels such as face-to-face meetings and media coverage.
The last of the five articles focuses on fisheries co-management and is based on Lake Vättern, Sweden where fisheries co-management group was established in 2004. As the article indicates, the experiences are promising and suggest that participatory approach may lead to a more transparent policy system, stronger legitimacy of policy and enhanced level of stakeholder commitment.
It is useful to remember though, that each case in fisheries management is unique and something that has proven to be a successful formula under certain circumstances might not bring the same result somewhere else. For that reason the examples given in this publication are not advised to be introduced into practice without consideration of local circumstances. Nevertheless, we believe this publication provides good insight for anybody who is working in the field of fisheries management and will contribute to improved sustainable environmental governance in the Green Belt of Fennoscandia.
Niilo Valkonen, Future Missions Oy
[Reference: Hillborn, R. 2008. Knowledge on how to achieve sustainable fisheries. Fisheries for global welfare and environment, 5th World fisheries congress 2008, 44-56.]