At a meeting in Pärnu today, between the Ministry of the Environment and fishermen, the future of zander in Pärnu Bay will be under discussion. Zander catches may be significantly higher and there is a need to consider additional measures for increasing the zander stock.
According to the official statistics and studies of catches, zander stock of Pärnu Bay has still not reached the level prior to the 1990s decrease, despite that zander reproduction in the bay has been successful every year and exploratory fishing and monitoring both show a relatively numerous amount of young zander.
Redik Eschbaum, senior scientist of the Estonian Marine Institute of the University of Tartu, states that zander stock of Pärnu Bay is being heavily exploited. "This is proven by the fact that even the specimen of relatively strong generations persist in commercial capture in large quantities generally for not more than a year. Catches based on only a generation is a sign of great danger. The use of the stock is irrational mostly because of the massive catch of undersized zander by professional as well as recreational fishermen."
Ulvi Päädam, senior officer at the Fisheries Department of the Ministry of the Environment, explained that zander stock of Pärnu Bay has been under specific focus for quite a while. "It is concerning that despite the fact that zander stock has been kept alive with farm grown hatchlings, Pärnu Bay stock has not recovered. In other areas in Estonia, at Lake Peipsi for instance, closures during spawning periods have been established in order to protect zander. Minimum fish size in other water bodies is also higher," Päädam explained.
"For years now attention has been drawn to the need of applying measures for regrowing the zander stock of Pärnu Bay as well. The situation is further complicated by the fact that zander spawning period coincides with intense perch fishing, on account of which it is very complicated to set limits to zander fishing in a way that would not limit perch fishing and fishermen's income," said Päädam and added that the goal of today's meeting is to look at the situation with fishermen and discuss the possible solutions for increasing the zander stock in Pärnu Bay.
The fishermen will be provided with an overview of zander catches in Pärnu Bay and proportions of different fishing gear in it. Scientists of the Estonian Maritime Institute will also talk about the possible additional protective measures and the size of potential of zander in Pärnu Bay that may be obtained through application of the measures. The potential protective measures include raising the minimum size, defining withdrawal periods and closed areas for species or fishing gear and raising the selectivity of fishing gear (for example changing the allowed mesh size).
The Ministry of the Environment hopes to make the needed amendments in legal acts on the basis of results of the meeting, already this spring, so that the quantity of zander in Pärnu Bay may rise as soon as possible.