AGREEMENT REACHED ON BALTIC FISHING OPPORTUNITIES FOR 2021
The European Commission and the Member States have reached an agreement on the fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2021.
The agreement comes at a difficult time for the Baltic region, as it struggles with the ongoing environmental threats to the ecosystem and the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, welcomed the agreement: “I am pleased that we have found a compromise that works for the fishermen and women, while allowing fish stocks to replenish and reach healthy levels. This was the rationale of our proposal, which followed the advice of the International Council on the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) and the provisions of the Baltic multi-annual plan. I am happy that the Member States have kept to the spirit of Our Baltic ministerial conference a few weeks ago, when together with agriculture, fisheries and environment ministers from the region, we agreed to address all the factors affecting this fragile ecosystem.”
Overall, the agreement means that 8 out of 10 Baltic Sea total allowable catches (TACs) are set at sustainable levels – maximum sustainable yield (MSY). For two out of these stocks this is even below the MSY point value, or – for stocks where scientists could not give MSY-advice – in line with their precautionary advice. Reducing the fishing pressure alone will however not solve the problems of the Baltic Sea. A comprehensive approach is needed in line with the Our Baltic ministerial declaration signed by Commissioner Sinkevičius and Baltic Ministers of Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment three weeks ago.
A few major results:
- Firstly, on Eastern cod, the Council has reached a very responsible decision. The member states have accepted the very protective 595 tonnes TAC level for by-catch only and 4 months fishing closure. This fish stock has been below safe biological limits for several years, and is expected to stay at such low levels in the medium term, even without any fishing.
- For Western cod, the Council has increased the TAC by 5 %, which is lower that MSY point value.
- On Western herring, which is also in a difficult situation, Council has agreed on a 50% reduction of catches, which includes a remedial measure.
- For central herring, the TAC follows scientific advice and has been reduced by 36% compared to last year.
- The herring stocks in the Gulf of Riga and Gulf of Bothnia are doing much better, and fishing opportunities reflect this, with an increase of 15% and a roll-over of last year’s TAC respectively.
- Regarding plaice, the Council has set the TAC bellow MSY point value with an increase by 5 %.
- For sprat, the Council has agreed on a 6% increase, in line with scientific advice.
- Finally, for the two salmon stocks, in the Main Basin and in the Gulf of Finland, the Council has agreed on a 9% increase and 8% decrease respectively, in line with precautionary advice.