Latvia: Riga Trophy X Exhibition & Meeting of the Nordic Hunters’ Cooperation and the Baltic Region

At the invitation of President of LATMA and FACE Vice-President Elmārs Švēde, the FACE Baltic and Nordic Regions met in Riga, Latvia on 9-10 May. The first day was devoted to the Riga Trophy X Exhibition which included important trophy exhibitions from the Baltic countries and Belarus. The exhibition was formally opened by the President of Latvia who is himself a hunter and included a speech by FACE Vice President Lauri Kontro. The exhibition served as a reminder that trophy evaluation is most importantly about honouring good game management.

The following day was devoted to a bilateral meeting between the Nordic Hunters’ Cooperation and the Baltic Region covering a number of very important topics. These included in-depth discussions on large carnivores, Capercaillie management, hunting tourism and finally lead in ammunition. The meeting was also a very useful occasion to learn more about hunting in Belarus; a contingent from the Hunters and Anglers Union of Belarus including their Chairman Yury Shumski were invited as Observers to the meeting.

On large carnivores, it was evident that no country has an ideal situation. However, whilst there will always be differences between conservation needs and local views, it was felt that more cooperation between Member States and hunting associations and other organisations could bring about more pragmatic management of large carnivores. The collaboration in the Baltic region could serve as an example.

On Capercaillie management, it is regrettable that the limited spring hunting system in Latvia which was generally well-regulated has been discontinued. Nonetheless hunters remain interested in the conservation of Capercaillie and continue to collaborate with the State Forest Services in improving their management.

Hunting tourism was also discussed, being viewed as having both positive and negative benefits. In the case of Latvia, it is apparent that good control measures are necessary to ensure that hunting tourism is managed sustainably and not just for short term economic benefit.

Finally, on the issue of lead in ammunition: in Latvia, lead shot is banned in Natura 2000 sites. In Estonia the ban will come into force on 1 June for the hunting of waterfowl with lead ammunition. However in Lithuania the authorities remain unconvinced of the necessity to implement a ban given the low prevalence of wildfowling in the country, despite the Lithuanian Hunters’ and Anglers’ Association presenting their Ministry with information from FACE.

The quality of the presentations and the value of the discussions made it an easy decision that such bilateral meetings should be convened at least once a year. These gathering will be important and there was even a discussion to invite other countries with Baltic coastlines to the next meeting (Germany & Poland) to discuss issues related to HELCOM (the governing body of the “Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area” also known as Helsinki Commission) which works to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea through intergovernmental co-operation between Denmark, Estonia, the European Community, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden. 

Present: Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Nordic Hunters’ Cooperation, FACE Secretariat & Hunters and Anglers Union of Belarus.