Baltic Sea overfishing in crisis, environmental groups say

baltic sea overfishing
© iStock/Vlada_Z

Four NGOs focused around environmental issues have called for an end to herring and cod fishing in the Baltic Sea due to overfishing concerns.

Coalition Clean Baltic, Oceana, Our Fish and WWF issued a demand to the European Commission and Member States’ fisheries ministers, who set fishing quotas in EU waters, to keep 2020 fishing limits within the scientific advice provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). The groups’ renewed call for sustainable fishing practices was prompted by new ICES advice warning that Baltic Sea overfishing of herring and cod had reached a crisis point and must be alleviated by setting fishing quotas of zero on the affected fish for 2020.

Rebecca Hubbard, Programme Director at Our Fish, said: “All EU governments committed to end overfishing and to return our seas to good health, when they signed up to the reformed Common Fisheries Policy in 2013. Yet six years later, the situation in the Baltic Sea is worsening, with governments still caving in to short term industry pressure. This year, the EU Commission and Baltic member states, must follow the science, and begin managing our fisheries and Baltic Sea ecosystem for the long term benefit of all citizens and nature, not just the short term profits of a few.”

Ottilia Thoreson, Director of the WWF’s Baltic Ecoregion Programme, said: “Western and Eastern Baltic cod, as well as Western Baltic herring, underpin the Baltic Sea’s ecosystem, yet decades of overfishing, and the ignoring of scientific advice by the EU Commission and Baltic governments, has been one of the drivers of destruction and a tragedy for the coastal communities. Due to these years of destruction and neglect, we are now facing a situation where fishing must be halted, if we are to have a chance to fish and sustain livelihoods in the future.”

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