Various restrictions – restrictions on movement, hunting, use of water craft, fishing, etc

Restrictions may seem incomprehensible and sometimes annoying, but they contribute to the preservation and enhancement of biodiversity and, ultimately, to the improvement of the surrounding environment


There is a long list of restrictions. In a very general sense, they can be divided into the following categories:

  • restrictions on movement in protected areas and species protection sites;
  • restrictions on fishing, which may include rules on the use of fishing gear, the species that may be caught, or the waters in which fishing is permitted in the first place;
  • restrictions on game hunting.

Protected areas (national park, landscape conservation area, nature conservation area) have different protection zones (limited management zone, conservation zone, strict nature reserve). Visiting strict nature reserves is permanently prohibited to allow the community there to survive and develop only as a result of natural processes. The movement of a people in a conservation zone may be restricted, for example, during the nesting period of migratory birds. Restrictions on movement for all protected areas can be found on the map of the Land Board or on the website Keskkonnaportaal. Restrictions on the use of floating craft in water bodies, fishing, and hunting in a protected area can be found in the protection rules of each protected area.


Outside protected areas, species’ protection sites are established to protect the habitats of protected species. The restrictions there depend on the needs of the specific species.


Restrictions on the use of water craft depend on whether it is a transboundary water body, a navigable or non-navigable inland water body, a water body for public use (we have more than 1,500 of them), or a private water body. In the latter, restrictions on movement and fishing are imposed by the owner.


The movement of motor boats and other water craft in Estonian territorial waters and navigable inland waters is regulated by the Maritime Safety Act . These water bodies are Emajõgi and Väike-Emajõgi Rivers from Lake Võrtsjärv to the Pikasilla bridge and Lake Võrtsjärv, Lake Peipsi, Lake Pihkva, and Lake Lämmijärv. This also includes navigable estuaries and lower reaches of the rivers flowing into these lakes, and the Narva Reservoir and the Narva River from Lake Peipsi to the Narva Dam.


On non-navigable public inland waterways, the use of internal combustion engines is prohibited on lakes and rivers with an area of less than 100 hectares in which the minimum width of the navigable section is less than 10 metres. However, using water craft with an electrical motor is permitted there. The use of water craft in water bodies located in protected areas may be prohibited completely or otherwise regulated. More detailed information can be found in the protection rules of each protected area.


How about fishing? Fishing is an activity with many restrictions. There are restrictions on species, fishing grounds, fishing seasons, and fishing gear. Catching the same species may be either permitted or prohibited in different water bodies at different times. Catching protected species – sturgeons, wels, asp, grayling, spined loach, European bullhead, and weatherfish – is forbidden all year round.


The fishing of the average person is a recreational fishing. The most important pieces of legislation in the field are the Fishing Act  and the Fishing Rules. Catching undersized fish is prohibited regardless of the gear.


Fishing restrictions change every year. You should review the restrictions before going on a fishing trip and, in case of doubt, consult the aquatic life specialists of the Environmental Board.

The European crayfish may be caught from 1 to 31 August, subject to possessing a fishing card. A crayfish trap or crayfish dip-net can be used as fishing gear. Fishing by hand is not allowed. A minimum size of 11 cm is established for the European crayfish and smaller specimens must be released back into the water body.


Hunting is regulated by the Hunting Act. The aim of hunting is to keep the number of game within a reasonable range. You can hunt only on the hunting ground. Hunting grounds do not include densely populated areas (cities, towns, small towns, and villages) and recreation and leisure areas, because safe hunting cannot be guaranteed there. Areas where hunting is prohibited by the Nature Conservation Act  or area protection rules are also excluded from hunting grounds. In such an area, the Environmental Board decides whether hunting may be necessary to meet conservation objectives.


Hunting grounds are divided into hunting districts, which can be found in the Keskkonnaportaal or the hunting permit information system. Users of the hunting districts have the right to establish no-hunting areas. A no-hunting area may be necessary, for example, to protect waterfowl at their most important migratory resting places. Hunting times for wild game can be found in the hunting calendar . Adherence to the hunting volumes set for large game ensures that the biodiversity of our nature is preserved.



Last modified: 20.06.2022