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Ms Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of the Republic of Lithuania
Ms Loreta Graužinienė, Speaker of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania
Mr Algirdas Butkevičius, Prime Minister of the Republic of Lithuania
Ms Virginija Baltraitienė, Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Lithuania
Mr Kęstutis Trečiokas, Minister of Environment of the Republic of Lithuania
Mr Saulius Bucevičius, Chairman of the Committee on Rural Affairs of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania
Mr Algimantas Salamakinas, Chairman of the Committee on Environmental Protection of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania
Mr Julius Sabatauskas, Chairman of the Committee on Legal Affairs of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania
Mr Gediminas Kirkilas, Chairman of the Committee on European Affairs of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania
Mr Remigijus Žemaitaitis, Chairman of the Committee on Economics of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania
Mr Raimundas Paliukas, Chairman of the Commission for Maritime and Fishery Affairs of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania
Members of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania
Members of the Monitoring Committee and Social-Economic Partners
The Media

Vilnius, 22 July 2014

The work of evaluating the implementation of the Operational Programme for the Lithuanian Fisheries Sector 2007–2013 is nearing the end in Lithuania and the programming documents for the fisheries sector for the period 2014–2020 are underway. Therefore, I would like to bring forward several important fisheries related problems, which, to my mind, have not received adequate attention. Lithuanian authorities, politicians and public officials have already been informed about this matter.

Some thoughts about fisheries

Each person is recommended to eat 24 kg of fish or fish products per year. Lithuanians eat about 13-14 kg.
Recreational fishermen catch around 1200–1500 tonnes of fish annually. Commercial fishermen catch about 1500 tonnes of fish in internal waters, though under the Operational Programme 2007–2013 they should catch approximately 1800 tonnes of fish per annum. Poachers and illegal fishermen catch about 1300–1800 tonnes of fish every year, with the annual damage to fish stocks amounting to roughly LTL 30 million (EUR 8.7 million), while cormorants, on their part, catch about 600-800 tonnes of fish. In 2013 the fines for poaching were increased.

A minister’s order has superiority over the LAW in Lithuania

By Order No D1-267 of 8 March 2010, Minister of Environment Gediminas Kazlauskas prohibited commercial fishing in Kaunas Reservoir and the upper basin of Kruonis Pumped Storage Plant (KPSP) as of 1 January 2013 (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2010, No 29-1365).
A number of scientists, lawyers, businessmen, specialists and politicians argue that the order on the prohibition of commercial fishing in Kaunas Reservoir and Kruonis Pumped Storage Plant has no legal force and should therefore be considered NULL AND VOID as it is in prejudice of the Law on Fisheries of the Republic of Lithuania (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2000, No 1648). Article 6(1) of the Law maintains: “Fishing regulation measures shall be set and applied following the fisheries research data…” According to the research, in 2013 commercial fishermen could catch 65 tonnes of fish in Kaunas Reservoir and 15 tonnes of fish in the basin of Kruonis PSP.
Since 1 January 2013, the Ministry of Environment has not issued any permits for commercial fishermen to fish in Kaunas Reservoir and the basin of Kruonis PSP. The turbines of Kruonis PSP mince fish on a mass scale because the water current carries fish stocks from the basin straight into the turbines. The Ministry of Environment made a gross violation of the applicable law, while commercial fishermen incurred losses. A situation in 2014 is similar.
It should be noted that not once had a number of politicians, scientists, specialists and commercial fishermen explained about unlawful actions of the ministers of environment, Kazlauskas and Mazuronis, on the prohibition of commercial fishing in a number of water bodies in the meetings, discussions and conferences. No one has to this day officially reacted to the violations made by the ministers, whereas prohibitions are gaining an increasingly broad scope.
On 17 May 2013 Minister of Environment Valentinas Mazuronis issued the order prohibiting commercial fishing in all inland waters as of 1 January 2015, with the exception of the Curonian Lagoon and the specialised fishing of certain fish (Official Gazette Valstybės žinios, 2013, No 53-2648). It should be noted that upon conducting research, scientists have not to this day recommended the prohibition of commercial fishing in any of the water bodies. Many are unsettled by questions as to how much longer the violations of LAWS are going to last in Lithuania, who will take responsibility in respect of fishermen for the damages caused and who will be punished for the violation of laws.
Some 8 years ago the leaders of politics and public administration started declaring that commercial fishermen catch a lot of fish; they poach and interfere with recreational fishing. The smearing propaganda targeted at commercial fishermen was created and handed over to recreational fishermen for the fight against commercial fishermen hoping that a lot of recreational fishermen would vote for the parliamentary candidates defending the interests of recreational fishermen. The opinion was massively promoted by all means possible that commercial fishermen were poaching on a mass scale and catching all the fish. Minister of Environment Valentinas Mazuronis was especially talented in refining the black technologies of despising and smearing commercial fishermen. Rumour has it that thanks to them he has been elected a member of the European Parliament in 2014. Attention should be paid that according to the applicable law the activities of about 140 fishing undertakings in internal waters are strictly governed by legal acts. Reasonable people understand that commercial fishermen, who obtain permits for fishing in some 100 water bodies, cannot catch all the fish in the remaining 3000 lakes, 1500 ponds and 29000 rivers, rivulets and channels. Politicians and public officials succeeded in sowing discontent between recreational and commercial fishermen and winning some extra votes in electoral campaigns. Supposedly, ministers Kazlauskas and Mazuronis issued unlawful orders as a thank-you to some politicians and recreational fishermen and terrorise commercial fishermen, WHEREAS OTHER LITHUANIAN LEADERS AND POLITICIANS KEEP SILENT AND DO NOT REACT BECAUSE, APPARENTLY, THEY ARE EXPECTING THE VOTES OF RECREATIONAL FISHERMEN IN THE FUTURE.
Even school graduates know that the LAW has supremacy over a minister’s order, though some politicians and public officials still think that the order of ministers, especially that of Valentinas Mazuronis, is more important and has more powers than the LAW ON FISHERIES OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA.
The programming documents for 2014-2020 have much to say about the economic growth, creation of new jobs, support to coastal and land communities. However, it is not without reason that nothing is told about the negative phenomena, about the destruction of fishing business in inland waters, about the increase of social exclusion and unemployment. While the small fishing business in the world is promoted, Lithuania, on the contrary, is on a mission to destruct it.
Plenty of similar facts can be found in Lithuania.
Perhaps it can explain why:
1 million ha of land lies waste in Lithuania and huge sums are paid for people not to cultivate their land, while dozens of people in the world are starving. Lithuania has the highest emigration level in the whole EU. Lithuania has one of the lowest wages in the EU, while the prices of goods and services are approaching the European level. Lithuania is the leader by the number of suicides in the EU. Lithuania takes THE FIRST POSITION among the EU Member States by alcohol consumption per person – each resident of our country consumes the average amount of 15.4 l of absolute ethyl alcohol.

President L. Kerosierius
of the Alliance of Associations “Žuvininkų rūmai”