Baltic Sea fishing opportunities proposed for 2016

08 Sep 2015

The European Commission has tabled its proposal on fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2016.

For seven of the 10 stocks, the available data from the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee on Fisheries (STECF) and the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has allowed the Commission to propose catch limits at sustainable levels, or within the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY), for more stocks than ever before. The EU aims to achieve MSY for all fish stocks by 2020 at the latest.

Based on the proposals, the Total Allowable Catch for all stocks, except salmon, would decrease by about 15% compared to 2015. It would be set at approximately 565,692 tonnes. The catch limit for salmon, which is measured in pieces rather than tonnes, would increase by 6%, to 115,874.

The quota for Western herring would increase by 12% to 24,797 tonnes, and for Central herring by 9% to 177,505 tonnes.

Bothnian Sea herring would experience the biggest overall TAC decrease in 2016: a drop of –35%, to 103,254 tonnes. This reduction reflects ICES' decision to change the way this stock is assessed.

The Commission also proposed to decrease the TAC for Riga herring by –21%, to 30 623 tonnes.

In line with ICES' advice, the Commission proposed to decrease the TAC for Eastern Baltic cod by 20%, to 41,143 tonnes.

Data shows that Western cod stocks are overfished and have fallen below sustainable biological limits. The Commission expects Member States within the Council to agree on effective and adequate additional measures in order to improve the status of this stock. As the Commission is still awaiting additional data from ICES, it has not yet proposed a quota for this stock.

The Commission proposed to increase the TAC for Baltic Main Basin salmon by 10%, to a total catch of 105,850, along with a decrease of –24% for salmon in the Gulf of Finland, corresponding to a quota of 10,024 for this stock.

This year ICES has updated fishing mortality rates for sprat. As a result, catch limits will decrease by 14%, to 184,336 tonnes.

The Baltic plaice stock experienced the biggest proposed TAC increase: +18%. The increase is the result of the conservative TAC setting practice in the past, but also of an improved stock assessment methodology that allowed the Commission to propose a quota in line with the MSY approach.

The Council will discuss the Commission's proposals with a view to their adoption at its October meeting. If adopted, the proposals will apply from 1 January 2016.

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