MEPs vote for sustainable Baltic fishing

A multiannual plan for managing Baltic cod, sprat and herring stocks has been approved by the European Parliament.

This is the first such plan under the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), and the EP says that long-run management, rather than year-on-year planning, should make life more predictable for fishermen.

Multiannual management, and the fact that these three interacting species will now be managed through a single plan, should also make fishing in the Baltic more sustainable.

"The plan is a long-awaited pioneer proposal. It should help to ensure the balanced, sustainable exploitation of the stocks concerned and hence protect the livelihoods of fishermen. The multispecies approach should achieve this far more effectively than single species management. At the same time, the plan should also ensure that management measures reflect the most up-to-date scientific advice on stock status, interactions between species and ecological needs, said rapporteur Jarosław Wałęsa.

MEPs ensured that the stocks must be restored and maintained above biomass levels that can produce the maximum sustainable yield (MSY). The plan also has provisions for enforcing other key parts the new CFP, such as the discard ban and regional management.

The European Commission said that the plan is a “big step forward in making fishing in the Baltic more sustainable”. It will replace the existing cod management plan (which no longer addresses the needs of fisheries and the status of the cod stocks in Baltic) and bring the fishing sector from the region closer to the decision making process in fisheries management. It says that the approved plan is flexible enough to adapt to the realities of fisheries and to the conditions of fish stocks, ensuring that the best science is always used for the decisions on how fisheries should be managed.

Parliament and Council negotiators will now start talks, helped by the European Commission, with a view to reaching a first reading agreement on the plan.

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