Oceana urges EU fisheries ministers to rebuild Baltic stocks by applying science

Press Release Date: October 19, 2015

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: mmadina@oceana.org | tel.: Marta Madina

On 22nd of October, the Agriculture and Fisheries Council of the EU will gather in Luxembourg to begin their annual negotiations on catch limits for the Baltic Sea in 2016.  Oceana releases today science-based recommendations for setting Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas in the region to rebuild overexploited fisheries. The organization has called the Council to follow science when setting catch limits, recalling that they are legally bound to return fisheries to sustainable levels before 2020.

Oceana recommendations on fishing opportunities for Baltic stocks 2016

“European fisheries ministers must stop ignoring scientific advice and definitely abandon the political short-term perspective. The consequence of their approach is that 4 out of 10 Baltic stocks are still being overfished,” underlines Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe. “Under the Common Fisheries Policy EU member states must ensure that stocks are fished within sustainable levels as soon as possible and no later than 2020. I want to stress that after this ultimate deadline, overfishing will become illegal under EU law.”

In order to end overfishing in the Baltic, Oceana recommends in its report that the Council of EU fisheries ministers:

  • Follows scientific advice in setting fishing opportunities and prioritises stock recovery.
  • Sets the TACs for eastern cod stock at no more than 29220 tonnes and maximum 7797 tonnes for western cod stock, according to the advice of International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES)
  • Stops all directed sprat fisheries in areas 25-26 and redistributes fishing effort to the northern areas to allow cod stocks to recover.

Broken promises?

Last year fisheries ministers once again decided to ignore scientific advice for cod, against their own binding agreement under the CFP. Furthermore, Denmark, Germany, Finland, Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Sweden formally agreed that “maximum sustainable yield (MSY) shall be reached by 2016 for the western Baltic cod stock by applying a stepwise approach to obtain the MSY level when setting the TAC for cod in 2015.” They now must live up to their own commitment from the last year and set sustainable catch limits.

Baltic cod is crucial

Cod is a highly important species in the Baltic, both environmentally and commercially, thus Oceana believes that its recovery should be a top priority. The western cod stock has had a long history of overfishing. The European Commission failed to present a proposal for 2016 and left the decision over this stock entirely to EU states.