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Russian sanctions hit herring industry

Industry lobbyists say that the Finnish fishing industry is facing tough times thanks to sanctions Russia has slapped on fresh produce from the EU.

Kotkan edustalta pyydettyä silakkaa.
Finnish herring could become a rarer sight on Finnish supermarket shelves. Image: Antti Kolppo / Yle

Finnish herring is in a particularly tight spot, as high dioxin levels mean the catch cannot be sold on to EU markets.

Fish processing plants in the southwest have already laid off workers as a result of the squeeze, which industry groups say is causing them difficulties.

“There’s now a great uncertainty about where these fish are going to go,” said Kim Jordas, Managing Director of the professional fishing industry association. “If these sanctions continue till next spring, for example, then the problems will only get bigger.”

Some 4,500 tonnes of fish products are currently waiting for export to Russia, but now need to go to another market. That market will in any case not be in the European Union, where the dioxin levels in Baltic herring are considered too high.

Parliament is to vote this week on 600,000 euros in aid for the industry. That money would still need to be approved at EU level before it could be paid out, but in any case it won’t help replace the lost Russian market.

That money would be for stocks already in storage, and not for finding new markets. Some industry figures are pessimistic about that, saying that they are likely to end up selling their fish for lower prices.

“Fur farming is one realistic option, and if you think of the coming fish stocks, then it could go to Denmark as fishmeal,” said Jordas.

Industry lobbyist Jordas says that if the market remains flat and fishing becomes unprofitable, domestic consumers could be left without herring fillets in the supermarket.

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