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Lack of Action on protecting Eastern Baltic Sea Cod Stocks Disappointing

04 September 2014

EU - The European Commission has tabled its proposal on fishing opportunities for the main commercial fish stocks in the Baltic Sea. Oceana welcomes the commitment to restoring stocks but would have like to have seen more action on saving the Eastern Baltic cod population.

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), which 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. 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,” states Hanna Paulomäki, Baltic Sea project manager.

The Commission has proposed cuts in TACs for salmon which Oceana sees as a step in the right direction, considering the poor status of salmon populations in the Baltic Sea. However, further management measures must be enforced in order to restore Baltic Salmon populations. In the Gulf of Finland the populations are in such poor condition that Oceana recommends fisheries to be put to a stop until the wild populations have been restored.

“Given the vulnerable status of salmon populations in the Baltic Sea, open sea fisheries need to be stopped, as it is otherwise impossible to ensure that fisheries are conducted only on healthy salmon populations,” says Magnus Eckeskog, Oceana policy advisor.

Oceana’s main recommendation’s on 2015 fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea:

  • Set Total Allowable Catches with the aim of restoring fish stocks to levels capable of producing Maximum Sustainable Yield by 2015.
  • Ensure a low exploitation rate on the eastern cod stock to allow it to recover, and move fishing effort for sprat and herring, the main food for cod, from areas where cod is feeding.
  • Stop open sea fisheries on mixed salmon stocks.

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