Mixed response to EU's plans for Baltic fish stocks

THE European Commission’s proposals for fishing opportunities for the main commercial fish stocks in the Baltic Sea has met with mixed reaction from ocean conservation organisation, Oceana.

In October, the Total Allowable Catches (TAC) are to be decided by the fisheries Ministers. Oceana is glad to see that the Commission proposal is consistent with the aim of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy, to restore fish stocks to levels capable of producing long-term sustainable catches, for the majority of the stocks included in the proposal.

However, Oceana is disappointed that the Commission fails to propose a TAC for the Eastern cod stock, which according to scientists is suspected to be decreasing and is known to mostly consist of small and weak individuals.

The International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES), who provides the Commission with annual advice on the biological status of fish stocks has this year been unable to properly estimate the status of the Eastern Baltic cod stock, and therefore advised that catches should remain low out of precautionary reasons.

Surprisingly the Commission does not echo this advice in their proposal, but instead postpones it until later this month.

‘Oceana applauds the Commission for sticking to the ambitions of achieving long-term sustainable catches for most stocks in the Baltic Sea in line with the reformed CFP’, states Hanna Paulomäki, Baltic Sea project manager.

‘However, it is disappointing that the Commission has chosen to postpone its proposal for the Eastern cod stock. Given its vulnerable condition, it is our hope that the Ministers will apply a precautionary approach when setting catch limits for this stock in October.’