‘Too many fish’ in Finnmark lakes

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Many freshwater lakes in Norway’s northernmost county of Finnmark have a problem that likely would be considered a luxury most other places: They’re so full of fish that local officials worry they’re becoming “overpopulated.” There just aren’t enough people out fishing.

Lakes around Finnmark have an abundance of fish, and fishing authorities want more folks to go fishing. This lake is located outside Kautokeino, in the southern part of the district. PHOTO: Views and News

Calls have thus gone out for both residents and tourists to grab their poles and go fishing. The situation is so serious that local newspaper Finnmark Dagblad recently devoted a full front page to the issue, with a large headline reading Sliter med FULLE FISKEVANN (Struggling with FULL LAKES).

“We’re not seeing a lack of interest in fishing, but the quantity that’s being caught (in lakes) is lower,” Jørgen Eira Solbakke of the public property regulatory agency in Finnmark, FeFo (Finnmarkseiendommen), told Finnmark Dagblad. FeFo manages outdoor resources like fishing on public lands in Finnmark, covering around 96 percent of the vast area.

Solbakke noted that fewer residents need to fish “to get food on the table,” and he’s also registered changes among sports fishing enthusiasts. “Now they’re out for the experience,” Solbakke said. “They used to be out to get food, so we’re seeing the use of different equipment, different methods and different quantities.”

The trend away from fishing for the purpose of securing food means that too few fish are being caught in general, said Solbakke, who’s based in Karasjok. That in turn results in “overpopulation” of the lakes, he said, and leads to smaller fish as they compete against one another for food themselves.

In addition to urging more folks to go fishing, Solbakke and his colleagues are talking with local government officials in the hopes of easing rules that govern the use of nets on inland lakes. FeFo, Solbakke noted, is the official grunneier (landowner) on behalf of the public and wants “the highest possible degree” of fishing and hunting in Finnmark.

Local officials in Alta, Solbakke said, have modified their regulations governing use of fish nets in relation to the size of fishing stocks, and he views that as positive. “We’re in favour of measures that will encourage more folks to begin to fish, so that the lakes don’t get overpopulted,” Solbakke told Finnmark Dagblad.

(For information on how to legally fish and hunt in Finnmark, which is full of wide open spaces and some stunning scenery, go to FeFo’s website and click on “Info in English.”)

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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