Towards joint management of the transboundary Gauja/Koiva river basin district


The both neighbouring countries – Latvia and Estonia – are rich in natural water bodies – lakes, rivers, springs. But there are quite big differences among those water objects – one can find fast rivers with lots of rapids and stony river beds, as well as slow rivers with a slow stream and sandy or muddy river beds.

These differences determine also which plants and animals inhabit a water body – different species are adjusted to different living conditions. Some freshwater fish species are especially fastidious regarding living conditions.

All rivers and lakes can be divided into two main groups depending on suitability for certain fish species – freshwaters suitable for the salmonids and freshwaters suitable for the cyprinids.

The Gauja river basin is having a lot of river stretches suitable for the salmonids. These are rivers characterized by rapid streams (and big slope), riffles, stony river beds, shady banks, lower water temperature, but the lakes are deeper and have comparatively less overgrowth.

There are more than 20 fish species living in the Gauja river basin, e.g. perch, ide, grayling, bream, pike, roach, dace, burbot, whitefish, as well as one species of crayfish. Three fish species – salmon, trout, and vimba, as well as lamprey are economically important migrating species.

Angling in the Gauja River Basin waters as a part of active rest is very important and attractive, just use legal fishing means! For some fish species, the basin holds angling records. The 1.02 kg grayling, which was caught in the Gauja River, keeps the 1st place in Latvia already since 1987. And no one has officially beaten the pike of 19.56 kg caught in 1989 in the beautiful Lake Ungurs that is located in the Gauja National Park.

But before you decide to go for angling, especially to the neighbouring country, you have to find out about the most important angling rules. Laws and regulations are different in Latvia and Estonia.

To avoid conflict situations in Estonia, please take into account the angling rules and permissions of the country – if the amateur angling is something more than just use of simple angle:

- For angling in Estonia you need to pay the fee for the use of nature resources; there are much stricter rules and bigger penalty for angling without the permission in Estonia than in Latvia – therefore it is important to pay this fee;
- Children under 16, pensioners, repressed persons and disabled persons (with the respective document) are allowed to angle for free;
- There are differences also regarding the minimal allowed size for the particular fish species. It is allowed to keep: whitefish – 35 cm, smelt – 12 cm, pike – 45 cm, vimba – 30 cm, bream – 35 cm, burbot – 40 cm, perch – 19 cm. It is forbidden to sell the fish caught with the angling tools.

Since January 1, 2010 in Latvia new “Angling regulations” came into force and there are several substantial changes, e.g.:

- Persons having the fishing card also must have the valid identity document (with full name, surname and ID code) with them during angling;

- There is new obligation included in those rules: on the angling card, besides the name and surname, there must be also person’s ID code;

- The allowed amount of caught fish is changed –one angler in one angling time is allowed to keep: three pieces of ide, asp, or brown trout (and not 5 pieces as it was before); one piece of whitefish and grayling (and not 3 pieces as it was before), but for smelt in the inland waters it is allowed to keep 10 kg (the same as in the marine waters)  - this was not restricted before;

- It is forbidden to catch the pikes from March 1 until April 30 (before it was March 16 until April 30);

- The previous prohibitions to angle in the springtime (April 1 - May 30) in the river Gauja from estuary till the bridge crossing the Riga-Tallinn highroad; from the Līgatne estuary till the Amata estuary and in the Valmiera rowing route as well in the river Brasla from estuary till the fish farm’s dam are cancelled;

- There are crucial changes regarding angling in the rivers during the autumn restriction from October 1 till November 30. The number of rivers is increased where angling is prohibited and those rivers are divided into two groups: rivers where angling is totally forbidden and rivers where angling with certain bait is forbidden.