Baltic Sea fishing: NGOs welcome stricter limits, urge further action

baltic sea fishing
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A raft of environmental bodies have welcomed a European Commission proposal for stricter limits on Baltic Sea fishing.

The Commission’s proposed total allowable catch (TAC) for Baltic Sea fishing in 2020 falls largely in line with scientific advice on limits which will maintain fish stocks; though TACs remain higher than scientists’ recommendations for salmon, Western herring and Eastern Baltic cod, which is subject to an emergency fishing ban until the end of 2019.

The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation’s Senior Advisor Tapani Veistola said: “The scientific advice on main basin Baltic salmon clearly states that commercial landings should be 58,900 salmon. The Commission proposal of 86,575 salmon is not in line with that advice. Ministers at the October Council should follow the scientific advice on Baltic salmon, not the Commission proposal…With some Baltic stocks in crisis, the Common Fisheries Policy deadline of 2020 for stocks to be managed sustainably and in the midst of a biodiversity and climate emergency, decisions taken during Finland’s presidencies of the EU and BALTFISH [the Baltic Sea Fisheries Forum] will be crucial.”

The environmental NGOs highlighted the need to implement stronger sustainability measures within the marine ecosystem in order to prevent species loss. They drew particular attention to the failure of the Commission’s proposal to address scientific advice on protecting cod stocks.

Nils Höglund, Fisheries Policy Officer at Coalition Clean Baltic, said: “On western Baltic herring the science advice for a second year in a row is for zero catch. The Commission ignored the advice last year and Member States then made it worse by increasing the TAC in the final decision. Unsurprisingly the stock did not improve. Unfortunately, this year’s Commission proposal is again not in line with the scientific advice. We urge fisheries ministers to support the scientific advice.”

Lindsay Keenan, Fisheries Policy Officer at the Fisheries Secretariat, said: “For Eastern Baltic cod the science is clear: the stock is in crisis; and so we welcome the proposal of no direct cod fishing. We also welcome the proposed spawning areas protections, which should be a key part of a comprehensive long term rebuilding plan for both cod stocks. However we have serious concerns about the proposed bycatch TAC for Eastern cod, for which no figures are yet presented.”

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