EU deals blow to demersal fishermen in Baltic

12 Oct 2016
Demersal fishermen in Baltic dealt huge blow with fishing opportunities agreements for 2017

Demersal fishermen in Baltic dealt huge blow with fishing opportunities agreements for 2017

The Council of Ministers have reached an agreement on fishing opportunities for 2017 in the Baltic, its decision has dealt a huge blow to demersal fishing in the area.

Ministers ended up agreeing on a quota reduction of no less than 56% for cod in the Western Baltic Sea, while the quota for cod in the Eastern Baltic Sea was reduced by 25%.

The end result was a stark contrast from the proposal prepared by the fishing industry and supported by Europêche.

Javier Garat, president of Europêche, explained: “It is simply terrible for the fishermen who have their fishing activities in the Baltic Sea, they have been dealt a huge blow by the Council of Minsters decision.”

He added: “This will in particular affect coastal fishing because the quota in 2017 is eroding their revenues and thus fishermen’s incomes dramatically.”

This Europêche backed proposal suggested a reduction in the cod quota in the western Baltic of 20% and documented how such a reduction would deliver both growth in population and provide the economic basis that would enable fishermen to survive.

It believes this proposal would have given an increased stock of cod in the western Baltic Sea, but it would take a little longer before stock target would be reached.

Mr Garat continued: "The decision was taken without regard for the fishermen who must be given the economical opportunity to make ends meet.”

“We already have a growing cod stock, but there will not be local fishermen to catch them after 2017. This is of course not acceptable seen from the fishing side."

The Council of Ministers in its adoption also decided that the fishermen again must have a closing period – now extended by two weeks to last from 1 February to 31 March.

There will be an exception for vessels up to 15m who are allowed to fish out to a water depth of 20m all year round.

The Council of Ministers also decided on the quotas for the eastern Baltic, where the cod quota is reduced by 25%. Here the industry had proposed an unchanged quota from 2016 to 2017.

“It is a positive step but it is far from compensating for the quota reduction and it makes no sense with a closing period that is not biologically justified,” said Mr Garat.

He concluded: “This applies especially to Area 24 where the closing period in no way is consistent with the cod spawning period.”

“On the contrary, we have a clear statement from scientists, as a reaction to the closure introduced last year, where they point out that there is absolutely no biological argument for closing the area. It is shameful the way science is used as an argument when reductions are decided, but ignored when they do not fit the political wishes."

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