“In the last few years something has happened around Hanö Bay. There are far fewer fish near the coasts and an increase in skin sores on the fish,” said Johan Wagnström at the Skåne county administrative board to the TT news agency.
During the winter the board has interviewed a large number of anglers, who are in agreement over the state of fish stocks.
David Bailey, who has been fishing in the waters off Simrishamn in southern Sweden for several years, confirmed that fish pickings are few.
“There are none,” he told The Local on Monday, adding that local fisherman are hoping that the end of May will bring a change to their fortunes.
“The guys that I have been speaking to reckon that we could see more fish towards the end of the month, but that remains to be seen.”
The underlying causes of the dramatic decline are as yet unknown, with one long-time local fisherman telling news agency TT that viruses are not uncommon.
Ola Johnsson said that the fish are healthy out to sea but they are affected when they swim towards the shore. This summary is supported by David Bailey’s experiences.
“As far as I know the commercial fisherman are doing well,” he said.
Other theories being considered are pollution or changes to the climate.
“We have had a very particular weather situation during the past two winters. This can have affected tides and thus the water in the Hanö Bay,” said Johan Wagnström.
The alarming situation over fish stocks covers the inner areas of Hanö Bay, from Simrishamn towards Nogersund in Blekinge.
“This is a more enduring downturn than we have ever had. This is something extraordinary,” he said.
A meeting has now been scheduled between, among others, Region Skåne, the affected municipalities, anglers, the Swedish Board of Fisheries (Fiskeriverket) water conservation authorities and Sweden’s Meteorological Institute (SMHI).