Baltic fishing opportunities agreed

23 Oct 2012

The Fisheries Council has decided on fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2013.

The total allowable catch (TAC) for the western cod stock has been adopted lower than initially proposed by the Commission in order to achieve Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) sooner than forecast in the management plan.

The Commission says that as the BaltFish (the forum established by Member States around the Baltic Sea) proposals were within the limits of scientific advice the Commission decided to agree with them as a final compromise in the Council.

Western herring, Eastern cod and sprat stocks will continue to be fished at MSY levels, whilst Central herring, Gulf of Riga herring and Gulf of Bothnia herring pursue their progress towards reaching this target by 2015.

Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki has welcomed the Council’s decision, however, environmental organisation Oceana has said that although it is pleased with the decisions on cod, plaice, herring and sprat, it is disappointed by the decision to set the TAC for Baltic salmon more than twice as high as the number given by scientific advice.

“The Commission proposal - and the decisions taken yesterday on most Baltic stocks - were relatively in line with scientific advice, but we are deeply concerned about the agreed TAC for salmon, as many of the river populations in the Baltic are threatened, or on the verge of extinction,” stated Hanna Paulomaki, Baltic Sea project manager. “Last Friday, the Finnish Parliament decided to go against their own ministry’s proposal to set the salmon quota at 109,000 individuals, proposing instead at yesterday’s Council to limit the quota to 54,000 – the level recommended by scientists. We are disappointed that other Baltic Sea Minister did not support Finland’s text.”

Salmon is listed on the HELCOM red list as a threatened and/or declining throughout the Baltic Sea area, yet Oceana said that last year Member States set fishing levels above what was scientifically recommended.

Oceana has also stated that the salmon stock in the Gulf of Finland is in poor status and according to scientific advice, fishing of this stock should be minimised.

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