The EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council has reached an agreement for fishing quotas in the Baltic Sea in 2019, in the face of criticism from anti-overfishing campaigners.
Members going into the council meeting yesterday were met by activists from the campaigning group Our Fish, who presented them with a chocolate herring wrapped in a humorous mocked-up newspaper encouraging stricter fishing quotas in order to ensure an end to overfishing. Rebecca Hubbard, programme director for Our Fish, said before the meeting: “Today’s AGRIFISH meeting is crucial to determining if fisheries ministers are serious about putting the future health of Baltic fisheries and communities ahead of short term profits and political interests.”
After a day of negotiation, the council arrived at a consensus on the maximum quantity of fish or “Total Allowed Catch” (TAC) that EU fishermen will be allowed to catch in the Baltic Sea next year.
Council members agreed to increase fishing quotas for plaice, sprat, Western cod and herring in the Gulf of Riga. They decreased TACs for central herring, Bothnian herring, Western herring, Eastern cod and salmon in the Gulf of Finland.
Council president Elizabeth Köstinger said: “The 2020 deadline we set ourselves for achieving the sustainability of our fisheries resources is getting closer.”
However, Our Fish condemned the new fishing quotas as unsustainable. Rebecca Hubbard said: “EU fisheries ministers not only did little to improve on the [European] Commission’s proposal [for TACs] – they have made matters worse, by discarding the best available scientific advice for conservation of Baltic fish stocks. EU citizens are the rightful owners of this public resource, and have resoundingly supported an end to overfishing – something that ministers both ignored and disrespected today.”
The new quotas are informed by Common Fisheries Policy, which aims to manage fishing fleets in European waters and conserve European sea life by imposing fishing quotas; and states the goal of ensuring sustainable long-term fishing yields for all European fish stocks by 2020. The council also sourced guidance from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.