Brussels - At the first Fisheries Council meeting to agree fishing levels under the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), Ministers failed to commit to end overfishing for a majority of the Baltic fish stocks.
They largely ignored the new requirement to lower fishing pressure to levels in accordance with Maximum Sustainable Yield by 2015. The quota for only four stocks of the twelve (including herring and sprat), were agreed in line with MSY, despite ample scientific advice that several more stocks need to be managed in line with the principle of MSY. Quotas for western and eastern Baltic cod where set at almost double the scientifically recommended amount, despite the eastern stock being labelled vulnerable by the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the observed rapid decline of larger individual fish.
While the new CFP allows for a delay in managing stocks according to MSY until 2020 at the latest in cases where it would otherwise “seriously jeopardise the social and economic sustainability of the fleets involved”, there is no justification to apply this to current Baltic stocks.
Seas At Risk and the Fisheries Secretariat had urged European fisheries ministers prior to the meeting to adhere to the principles they agreed to in the negotiations for the CFP reform last year.
It can only be hoped that Ministers will not repeat this failure at the upcoming Council meetings in November and December that will decide on quotas for deep sea and other species in EU waters.
For more information, please contact:
Björn Stockhausen; Fisheries Policy Officer