EU Fisheries Ministers’ decision on Baltic cod is insufficient to save stock

Oceana calls for greater urgency over Western Baltic cod overfishing despite some remedial measures introduced for 2017

Press Release Date: October 10, 2016



Marta Madina | email: | tel.: Marta Madina

The Agriculture and Fisheries Council reached an agreement today on fishing limits for Baltic stocks for 2017 including 5597 tonnes for Western Baltic cod, a 56% reduction of the current quota. Although for the European Commission this figure is in line with the Baltic Multiannual Plan (BMAP) for fisheries management, it exceeds scientific recommendations provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), which proposed a 93% reduction.

“Today’s agreement seems to cover the bare minimum for legal requirements but lacks ambition to restore the heavily overfished Western Baltic cod back to healthy levels”, explains Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe. “By deciding to continue overfishing, ministers not only risk environmental collapse but also ignore the potential growth for all fishing communities along the Baltic coast that depend on this iconic fish”.

Denmark and Germany exploit the most of the Western Baltic cod stock (approx. 44% and 21% of total landings respectively) and have led the campaign to continue cod overfishing in the Baltic Sea despite warnings from scientists and NGOs. The Western Baltic cod stock has a very low biomass, high fishing pressure and declining recruitment (number of juveniles added through reproduction to the population of the stock) which currently is at its lowest ever recorded levels. Continued overfishing risks a stock collapse which would have huge and likely permanent socio-economic consequences for the region.

The Eastern Baltic cod stock shows signs of improvement; however, it is still in a fragile state due to a recent rapid decrease in the abundance of larger and older fish. The 2017 TAC for this stock exceeds scientific recommendations by 17%. Oceana called on the Council to follow scientific advice in setting fishing opportunities and to prioritise stock recovery and long-term stability.

In the case of the Western cod stock, Oceana has been advocating for a temporary closure of targeted fishing for western Baltic cod in 2017.