13th February 2006 Nearly 50 Finns applied for two open jobs for porpoise spotters for Finnish fishing vessels in the Baltic Sea.
The application period for the two-year posts began on January 15th, and ended at the end of the month.
No foreigners were among the applicants, but some did have international experience. Jarmo Vilhunen of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry says that he hopes that the Finnish spotters, officially called inspectors, could begin their work already at the beginning of March. The duties of the inspectors will mainly involve office work in Turku. Their first task will be to work together with the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute on a national programme.
It has not yet been decided how many days the inspectors would spend at sea. Initial plans were for spending about 70 days a year on fishing vessels.
"We would not have hired these kinds of inspectors for gathering information, if there would not have been an EU statute. Information to be gathered this way could have been available by other means as well. Here in Finland, we trust our fishermen; if a mammal is caught, they would pass on the information", Vilhunen says. Each EU member state is required arrange its own monitoring operations.
"We are all a bit angry about this, but on the other hand, as there is an EU statute, and it applies to all member states in the Baltic Sea, then we need to fulfil our obligations, or else we would be in front of the EU Court again."
Viljunen says that the European Commission will eventually draw up a report of the results of the monitoring operation to the European Council and the European Parliament.
Vilhunen says that the ministry hopes to implement the inspection regimen without imposing extra costs on the fishing fleet.