Fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2022: improving the long-term sustainability of stocks – The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology
This article is presented to you in association with the European Commission.
The Commission today adopted its proposal for the fishing opportunities for 2022 for the Baltic Sea. Based on this proposal, EU countries will determine how much fish can be caught in the sea basin, for the most important commercial species.
The Commission proposes to increase herring fishing opportunities in the Gulf of Riga, while maintaining current levels of eastern sprat, plaice and cod bycatch. The Commission proposes to reduce the fishing possibilities for the remaining stocks covered by the proposal, in order to improve the sustainability of these stocks and to help other stocks such as cod and herring to recover.
Virginia Sinkevičius, Commissioner of the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, said: “The poor environmental condition of the Baltic Sea heavily affects our local fishermen and women, who depend on healthy fish stocks for their livelihoods. That is why the Commission is doing everything possible to rebuild these stocks, and today’s proposal reflects this ambition. However, the state of the Baltic Sea is not only linked to fishing, so everyone must do their part to build the long-term sustainability of this precious sea basin.
Over the past decade, EU fishermen and women, industry and government have made considerable efforts to rebuild Baltic Sea fish stocks. When full scientific advice was available, fishing opportunities had already been set in accordance with the principle of maximum sustainable yield (MSY) for seven of the eight stocks, covering 95% of fish landings by volume. However, in 2019, scientists found the situation was worse than expected. Decisive action is still needed to restore all stocks and ensure that they reach or remain at sustainable levels.
The proposed total allowable catches (TACs) are based on the best available scientific advice peer-reviewed from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) and follow the Baltic Sea Multi-Annual Management Plan adopted in 2016 by the European Parliament and the Council. For western Baltic cod, herring and western Baltic salmon, the Commission will update its proposal once the relevant scientific advice is available (expected by mid-September).
For Eastern Baltic cod, the Commission proposes to maintain the level of the TAC and all the accompanying measures from the fishing possibilities of 2021. Despite the measures taken since 2019, when scientists were alarmed for the first time about the very poor state of the stock , the situation has not improved yet.
For western Baltic cod the scientific opinion of International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) is postponed to mid-September and the Commission will update its proposal accordingly. However, given that it seems unlikely that the stock has developed favorably, the Commission is now proposing to maintain the closure of spawning. It also proposes to maintain all accompanying measures in the eastern part of the catch area, given the predominance of eastern Baltic cod in this area.
The size of the stocks of western Baltic herring remains below safe biological limits and scientists are advising for the fourth consecutive year to stop fishing for western herring. The Commission therefore proposes to close the directed fishery and set a TAC limited to unavoidable bycatch, the level of which the Commission will propose at a later stage, as ICES is currently not able to provide sufficient scientific data.
For central Baltic herring, the Commission is proposing a reduction of 54% in accordance with the ICES advice, as the size of the stock has fallen very close to the limit below which the stock is not sustainable. In accordance with ICES advice, the Commission proposes to reduce the TAC level for herring in the Gulf of Bothnia by 5%, while the situation for Riga herring allows an increase in the TAC of 21%.
Although the ICES advice allows an increase, the Commission remains cautious, mainly to protect cod – which is an unavoidable bycatch in the plaice fishery as it is currently practiced. He therefore proposed to keep the level of the TAC unchanged.
As with plaice, the ICES advice for sprat would allow an increase. However, the Commission recommends caution and proposes to keep the level of the TAC unchanged. This is because sprat and herring are caught in mixed fisheries and the TAC for central Baltic herring needs to be significantly reduced again. In addition, sprat is a prey species for cod, which is not in good condition.
ICES postponed its scientific advice on salmon to mid-September. The Commission will update its proposal accordingly. An ICES special advisory from April 2020 already provides information on the issues affecting these stocks, highlighting the fact that the MSY target cannot be achieved for all salmon river stocks if commercial and recreational marine fisheries of Mixed stocks continue at current levels.
The Council will examine the Commission proposal with a view to its adoption at a ministerial meeting on 11 and 12 October.
The fishing opportunities proposal is part of the European Union’s approach to adjust fishing levels to long-term sustainability goals, called maximum sustainable yield (MSY), by 2020, as agreed by the Council and the European Parliament in the Common Fisheries Policy. The Commission proposal is also in line with the political intentions expressed in the Commission Communication “Towards more sustainable fishing in the EU: state of play and guidelines for 2021»And with the Multi-annual management plan for cod, herring and sprat in the Baltic Sea.
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Table 1: Overview of changes in total allowable catches (TAC) 2021-2022 (figures in tones except for salmon, which is in number of pieces)
ICES fishing zone; subdivision
|Council agreement (in tonnes &% variation from 2020 TAC)||Commission proposal
(in tonnes &% variation compared to the 2021 TAC)
|Western cod 22-24||4000 (+ 5%)||afternoon|
|Eastern cod 25-32||595 (-70%)||595 (0%)|
|Western herring 22-24||1,575 (-50%)||afternoon|
|Bothnian herring 30-31||117,485 (+ 81%)||111,345 (-5%)|
|Riga herring 28.1||39,446 (+ 15%)||47,697 (+ 21%)|
|Central herring 25-27, 28.2, 29, 32||97,551 (-36%)||44,709 (-54%)|
|Sprat 22-32||222,958 (+ 6%)||222,958 (0%)|
|Plaice 22-32||7,240 (+ 5%)||7,240 (0%)|
|Main basin salmon 22-31||94,496 (+ 9%)||afternoon|
|Salmon from the Gulf of Finland 32||8,883 (-8%)||afternoon|