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Fisheries Council Discuss Multiannual Plan for the Baltic Sea

27 January 2015

EU - The Latvian Presidency gave a presentation to the Council of it work programme in the agriculture and fisheries sector. In terms of fisheries, the Council held a public debate on a proposal for a multiannual plan for the Baltic Sea.

The Council held a public debate on a proposal for a multiannual plan for the stocks of cod, herring and sprat in the Baltic Sea.

Member states generally welcomed the proposal considering that it will be a test case for a new
generation of multiannual management plans. Even if they pointed out that there are issues to
discuss further, such as the legal basis or the acts delegated to the Commission, most of the
ministers envisaged very positively the examination of the proposal in the months to come. In those
conditions, the Presidency hope to reach general approach on this proposal before the end of the
Presidency and launch the negotiations with the Parliament.

This management plan aims to ensure that the Baltic stocks of cod, herring and sprat are exploited
in a sustainable way according to the principles of maximum sustainable yield (MSY).

It aims to replace the existing management plan for the Baltic Sea cod stocks (in place since 2007) with a multispecies approach because the stocks of herring and sprat are not yet subject to a management plan. In view of the strong influence that biological interactions and environmental effects have on those fish stocks, exploitation rates and patterns should be adapted. In addition, scientific advice has indicated that the current exploitation rates for some of the Baltic fish stocks are currently not consistent with achieving MSY.

The proposal belongs to a new generation of multiannual management plans designed on the basis
of principles jointly agreed between the Council and the European Parliament, as a result of the
report on the subject from the inter-institutional Task Force. The Task Force was created to resolve
an inter-institutional disagreement on the allocation of responsibilities between the Council and the
European Parliament under article 43 of the Lisbon Treaty.

This plan is based on a multispecies approach and will ensure that Baltic fish are exploited in a sustainable way. Member states generally welcomed the proposal and highlighted that it will be a test case for a new generation of multiannual management plans.

Janis Duklavs said: "This debate will help our Presidency to reach agreement in the Council as soon as possible and to begin negotiations with the European Parliament."

As regards the state of play of the negotiations with the European Parliament on the implementation of the landing obligation, many Member States supported the compromise presented by the Latvian Presidency with the aim of reaching a rapid agreement on this issue. 

Agriculture

On the current Russian ban on EU agricultural products introduced by Russia in August 2014, the president of the Council recalled that "the Russian ban must be dealt with by the EU as a whole and that a differentiated treatment of Member States is unacceptable".

The Council also discussed market developments and the measures introduced so far by the Commission for fruit, vegetables and dairy products in a response to the Russian ban. While acknowledging the measures, the Member States expressed concerns they might prove insufficient to alleviate the consequences of the ban on the EU market. Some member states also drew attention to the difficulties encountered by the pigmeat sector for which no market measures have so far been taken.

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