I have been trawl fishing on the southern part of the Bay of Bothnia for 9 years now. Compared with the North Atlantic it is almost like a lake. We can cross it in 12 hours looking for the baltic herring (Clupea harengus membras). There have been changes but it is hard to make any firm statements. Scientists claim the stock to be healthy and we can see the fish as well but it has become more and more difficult to catch them. There are nice shoals where the bottom is rocky and the depth gradient changes rapidly. There the fish can feel themselves comfortable as they are not threatened by our gear . It´s a game of hide and seek. We win when fish venture out to the underwater flatlands or during night rise high enough for us to catch them. Most of the time we lose.
10 years ago the Bay of Bothnia was completely frozen for 3 weeks during the winter, 2 years ago there was only a little bit of ice in the inner archipelago. During the colder years it was easier to catch as the fish moved into deeper waters in the middle of the bay. The quotas were also much smaller 10 years ago. ln 2008 fishermen were allowed to catch around 80000t. In 2015 it was 140000t which was far too optimistic as only 100000 was caught. For the next year 53000t of Bothnia´s herring is on the table for the Finnish fishermen. Good for me as I will most propably have more time for sailing and other matters.