Fishermen swap nets for fishing cages in order to protect endangered Saimaa ringed seals
More than 20 ringed seals have drowned this year
On Saturday, a total of 89 fishermen exchanged their nets for fishing cages and traps on Haukivesi, in the Saimaa lake basin.
The exercise, arranged by the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (Luonnonsuojeluliitto) was intended to reduce net fishing in the period from mid-April to the end of June, in order that pups of the Saimaa ringed seal (Pusa hispida saimensis) would not drown in the nets.
Members of a fishing cooperative in Varkaus agreed in writing to cease net fishing from April 15th to June 30th for the next two years.
The WeKe traps supplied to the fishermen are of no danger to the seals, and were paid for by the energy company Fortum.
The Saimaa ringed seal, descended from ringed seals separated from the rest when the land rose after the last ice age, is among the most endangered species in the world, with only around 260 specimens documented at present. As the name suggests, it is found only in the Saimaa lake system in Eastern Finland.
It is known that this year alone some 22 seals have died, mainly from drowning.
The animal has been protected since 1955, and is featured as the logo for the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Scattered restrictions on net fishing harm Saimaa ringed seal population (12.8.2008)
Spot that seal! (1.6.2004)
Saimaa ringed seal (Wikipedia)
Virtual Finland - Saimaa ringed seal
Finnish Association for Nature Conservation