Scientists advise reducing Baltic catches for the first time

Oceana had repeatedly urged to apply the precautionary approach to unmanaged species as requested by the law.

Press Release Date: May 27, 2011

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: | tel.: Marta Madina

Today ICES, the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas published their advice on recommended catch amounts for Baltic fish stocks in 2012. Based on this advice, the European Commission will propose a Total Allowable Catch per fish stock. While around 60 different fish species are caught in the Baltic Sea for consumption, ICES has only given advice for ten of them. The rest of species remain largely unmanaged – despite the fact that many are overfished and some, like the European Whitefish are threatened species according to the Helcom redlist.

However, after a decade during which countries ignored their obligations to report scientific data, this is the first time that ICES scientists applied the precuationary approach and advised a TAC for Brill, Dab and Plaice that is not higher than 2010 catches and a reduction of catches for Flounder and Turbot, all of which are currently unmanaged.

The species for which ICES gives advice, Cod, Herring, Sprat, Salmon and Sea trout are overfished and most of the stocks are far from making sustainable fisheries possible. The situation is particularly bad for western Baltic cod, which is only very slowly recovering from an almost depleted state and for the central Baltic herring, which is still severely overfished. In fact, ICES scientists recommended a 2012 catch limit for Western Baltic Cod that is much too high given Member States’ requirement to reach Maximum Sustainable Yield by 2015. Meanwhile, after the 2011 ICES recommendations on herring stocks were ignored, scientists now advise a further reduction of catches as the current catch level is unsustainable.

Oceana Baltic Sea project manager Anne Schroeer comments: „This is the first time that scientists have followed the legal obligation to apply the precautionary approach and propose catch limits for stocks that are currently unmanaged as Oceana requested. That is a big step forward.”

Oceana is urging the Commission and Member States to immediately halt fishing for redlisted and threatened species in the Baltic Sea and to set precautionary catch limits for all currently unmanaged fish species.