National Audit Office: Supervision of Professional Fishing on the Baltic Sea Is Insufficient

Toomas Mattson | 5/12/2009 | 2:16 PM

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TALLINN, 12 May 2009 - The National Audit Office believes that environmental supervision is unable to ascertain illegal trawling efficiently because supervision is not systematically planned, the cooperation of different state agencies in supervision is not working and landing of fish caught by trawling is rarely checked in several regions of the country.

Fish resources in the Baltic Sea are low due to the environmental deterioration of the Baltic Sea and years of overfishing. Environmental supervision must guarantee adherence to fishing requirements and prevent illegal fishing in order to restore fish resources to a good condition.
The National Audit Office found that many options offered by information technology have remained unused in supervision, which means that no attention is paid to companies that submit contradicting data about catching, landing and selling fish. The audit showed that there are contradictions in the catching and landing data of most trawlers and they were systematic in the case of about one-fifth of the vessels.
The audit showed that the supervision conducted by the Environmental Inspectorate over the landing of trawled catch is insufficient in some regions, such as Virumaa, and it does not meet the goals set by the Inspectorate itself. Some vessels have been inspected considerably less often than others or have not been inspected at all for several years.

One of the problems in the organisation and supervision of fishery is that the state does not have a complete information system to cover the entire field. The Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture have failed to agree in the development of an information system to cover all fish resources and both professional and recreational fishing and they are both separately developing information systems to cover the tasks in their area of government. This compartmentalisation means that the options to analyse and inspect data are suffering, the solution is not user-friendly and the administration and development expenses of the separate information systems increase.
The Minister of Environment and the Minister of Agriculture agreed with the majority of the recommendations made by the National Audit Office and submitted some specifications for the audit report. Both ministries believe that the quality of supervision will improve as a result of the new fishery information system implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture at the beginning of this year – however, it only covers professional fishing. Many of the recommendations made by the National Audit Office have already been taken into account. 


The National Audit Office audited supervision of professional fishing on the Baltic Sea and the development of the information system required for the organisation and supervision of fishery. The audit focused on the supervision of trawling, because this method is used in the Baltic Sea more extensively than coastal fishing and Estonia is obliged to meet the supervision requirements established to trawling in the European Union. The audit is a part of the parallel audit in Baltic Sea countries that focuses on environmental monitoring of the Baltic Sea and the organisation and supervision of fishery.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, there are 71 trawlers in Estonia that caught 21,262 tons of Baltic herring, 48,582 tons of sprats and 970 tons of cod from the Baltic Sea in 2008.

Toomas Mattson
Communication Manager of National Audit Office
Telephone: 6400 777
Mob: 51 34900

  • Posted: 5/12/2009 2:16 PM
  • Last Update: 8/28/2015 9:30 PM
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