“Buy out fishermen to save fish stocks”

Swedish fishermen should be bought out in order to conserve fish stocks in the seas around Sweden. This is the idea being put forward by the Swedish Society for Natural Conservation (SNF), which says EU money could be used to fund the scheme.

The proposal was presented by Svante Axelsson, SNF’s general secretary on Monday during a debate with Environmental Minister, Lena Sommestad.

“We have an overcapacity of operational fishing vessels. It’s wiser to make it beneficial for the fishing industry [to sell out] and result in a fishing fleet in parity with what can be sustainably fished.” Axelsson told TT.

“We simply need to buy out the most industrial fishermen. We need to protect coastal populations on the west coast and therefore we would prefer many small boats rather than large industrial ships.”

According to SNF’s proposals, the money would be taken from the EU’s structural funds.

Environment Minister, Lena Sommestad said the proposal was worth looking into.

“This is a hot topic in places like the UK, where fishermen feel a very insecure. We must examine what professional fishermen can continue to do most naturally to reduce fishing.” Sommestad commented.

But fishermen’s representatives were more sceptical:

Henrik Svenberg, chairman of the Swedish National Fishermen’s Association, said that SNF was “showing its true colours”. The organisation was representing “sport fishing”, and wanted to eradicate the fishing industry, he said.

“The restrictions on cod we have had in the Baltic Sea over a number of years are already bearing fruit from the biologists’ perspective,” Svenberg told news agency TT.

But SNF’s general secretary said he hoped that fishermen would see the sense of his proposals:

“It isn’t only a question of money, but also a question which in cooperation with the fishing industry would open discussions on new possibilities and ways to deal with a traditional industry in a modern situation,” said Svante Axelsson.