Oceana: Fisheries ministers miss legal deadline to stop overfishing in the Baltic Sea

Press Release Date: October 15, 2019

Location: Luxembourg


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EU fisheries ministers agreed overnight Monday on the 2020 fishing limits for fish stocks in the Baltic Sea, including iconic cod and herring. Oceana criticises the Council for breaching the main objective of the EU fisheries law — to end overfishing by 2020 — by setting quotas that continue to disregard scientific advice, and jeopardise the future of fish populations and fishermen in the region.

The agreement allows for a small amount of bycatch (accidental catch) for the collapsed stock of eastern Baltic cod, while scientific recommendations clearly suggest a “zero” catch (closing the fishery) to save whatever little amount of cod is still left. Ministers also disregarded science in the case of western herring, for which they lowered catches by 65%. Oceana called on the Council to follow scientific proposals and set a “zero” catch for this species, that would protect the Baltic Sea from facing permanent socio-economic consequences.

Today’s agreement mostly wipes out a decade of work on the Common Fisheries Policy from its reform to current implementation. The October Fisheries Council was the last chance for the EU to finally turn the tide and end unsustainable fishing in the Baltic Sea”, explained Pascale Moehrle, executive director for Oceana in Europe. Disregarding the scientific advice and EU fishing law by fisheries ministers puts at risk the Baltic Sea ecosystem, its fish stocks and fishermen, and also undermines the credibility of the EU as a whole”, added Moehrle. 

For the western Baltic cod, the Council decided to reduce catches by 60%. Oceana welcomes this much needed reduction of the total allowable catch as well as a seasonal closure necessary to protect cod spawning aggregations.  

The EU Agrifish Council will meet on 16 – 17 December in Brussels to decide on fishing quotas for the next year for Northeast Atlantic waters.


Joint NGO recommendations on 2020 Baltic Sea fishing opportunities

Oceana’s reaction to EU closing fishing for cod in Baltic Sea

Learn more: Eastern Baltic cod