Report | October 3, 2017

Baltic Sea: Status and potential productivity of fish stocks

To date the European Union is failing the responsible man-agement of fish resources. Despite different international commitments, and EU framework regulations on sustainable fisheries, the status of EU fish stocks is still far from being considered as positive.

A recent study (Froese et al. 2016), commissioned by Oceana provides the largest picture of European fisheries by surveying 397 stocks – more than twice the number currently analysed by the European Commission. Its main findings include that 64% of the stocks were subject to ongoing over-fishing and only 12% of the stocks fulfilled the requirement of the CFP (not overfished and biomass above MSY).

Although the situation in the Baltic Sea has been improving in recent years and looks better than the average status of EU stocks, there are still however areas of concern that put reaching the Common Fisheries Policy’s (CFP) goal to rebuild stocks to sustainable levels by 2020 in question. Out of 20 stocks analysed in the Froese et al. report:
• 40% of stocks are subject to ongoing overfishing (F > Fmsy)
• 45% of stocks are outside of safe biological limits.
• Only 5 stocks (25%) are in line with the CFP objec-tives2.
But sustainability is also good for the fishing sector. The study concludes that the potential increase in catches should all stocks recover to MSY levels is around 26%. Moreover look-ing at individual stocks the benefits of recovering the stocks to MSY capable levels cannot be clearer.