Ahead of the EU’s Agriculture and Fisheries Council (AGRIFISH) meeting today, 14 October, ocean advocacy foundation Oceana has urged action on Eastern Baltic cod overfishing.
With the AGRIFISH meeting set to discuss the establishment of catch limits for the Baltic Sea’s native commercial species for 2020, Oceana has cautioned that unsustainable fishing of Eastern Baltic cod must be strictly limited under the new catch quotas. The European Commission introduced a temporary ban on Eastern Baltic cod fishing earlier this year in recognition of dwindling stocks; however, the Commission’s recommended catch limit of 2,000 tonnes for 2020, along with its recommended quotas for Baltic salmon and Western Baltic herring, fall well above the limits recommended by scientists.
Oceana recommends a total annual catch of zero for Eastern Baltic cod in 2020, closing fishing of the imperilled species entirely for the year in order to enable stocks to repopulate. Oceana has set the same recommendation for Western Baltic herring, which is similarly at risk of destructive overfishing; and has declared its approval of the Commission’s recommendation of lowering the total allowed catch for Western Baltic cod by 68%, as long as a closure period is implemented to enable spawning.
Andrzej Białaś, Policy Advisor at Oceana Europe, said: “The Council meeting is the last chance for the EU to reach the legally binding target to end overfishing in the Baltic Sea by 2020. It is now time to introduce strictly scientific catch limits in order to ensure a sustainable future of the region’s fisheries. Cod is the cornerstone of Baltic marine ecosystem. After the collapse of Eastern Baltic cod earlier this year, EU ministers need to maintain the fishing ban and to remove the risk of bycatch while increasing control and monitoring efforts, so that this iconic fish can recover. With cod gone, the fishing industry relying on it will simply vanish.”