EU Fisheries Ministers acted against their own decision under renewed common fisheries policy when deciding on 2015 catch limits for Baltic Sea stocks
Today, EU Fisheries Ministers met to negotiate the 2015 Total Allowable Catches (TAC) for the Baltic Sea stocks. Regretfully, the Ministers decided to ignore scientific advice for cod , going against their own agreement under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) to achieve fisheries management in line with Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY, which is the theoretical maximum long term catch that can be taken from a stock) by 2015.
The Baltic Sea fishing opportunities were the first in line to be decided under the reformed CFP. Oceana is disappointed that the Ministers are not taking responsibility, and have failed to live up to their agreement to rebuild fish stocks to sustainable levels. If the CFP is properly implemented, this agreement has the potential to dramatically rebuild European fish stocks, for the benefit of the environment, consumers and the communities that depend on fisheries.
For the Baltic Sea cod stocks, scientists recommend that fisheries are reduced for two reasons. The TAC for the western cod stock needs to be reduced by about half in order for it to reach its full productivity potential, the so called MSY management which should be achieved by 2015, according to the CFP. For the eastern cod stock, scientists have recommended cuts in next year’s catches following the precautionary approach, as the stock is currently classified as data limited. In recent years, scientists have also reported that the numbers of large cod have greatly declined from this stock, and that it mostly consists of small and thin individuals. The Ministers decided to apply cuts for both of these stocks, but not large enough in ordr to achieve MSY or to comply with the precautionary principle, thus postponing the needed recovery of European fish stocks for the future.
“It is sad that EU Fisheries Ministers have again prioritized short-term economic interest, by failing to live up to their commitment to rebuild fish stocks, particularly since the fishing limits for the Baltic Sea are the first of the EU stocks to be agreed under the new CFP. It shows that EU decision makers are inclined to make ambitious agreements, but fail when it comes to needed action”, says Hanna Paulomäki, Oceana Baltic Sea project manager.