Fishing quotas for the Baltic Sea: The wrong course

17.09.2019

On Friday, August 30, the European Commission presented its proposal for fishing quotas for the Baltic Sea 2020, and it is a tough read for Danish fisheries.

For all stocks that are important for Danish fisheries - cod, herring, sprat, plaice and salmon - the Commission proposes reductions to the quotas for 2020 compared to 2019.

- In the light of the scientific advice, the Commission's proposal for certain stocks does not come as a big surprise. But for cod and herring in the western Baltic, the Commission has taken the wrong course and has gone further than biologically necessary, says Svend-Erik Andersen, chairman of the Danish Fishermen PO.

The Danish Fishermen PO calls for the quota setting to meet the obligations of the EU's common fisheries policy to ensure economic, social and environmental sustainability. The Commission's proposal will pull away the blanket under many fishermen, and hit the coastal fishermen and their ports.

 

An unnecessary reduction for cod in the western Baltic

In particular, the Commission's proposal for cod in the western Baltic Sea is causing great frustration in the industry. The Commission goes beyond biological advice and proposes a reduction of the quota for 2020 by as much as 68% compared to this year’s quota.

- This year we saw an increase in the quota of 70%, and now it is proposed that the quota should be reduced by 68%. It is not possible to live with these yo-yo quotas that neither benefit the fishermen nor the cod population, says Kim Kær Hansen, Vice-chair of the Danish Fishermen PO.

 

Closing periods pull the blanket away under the fisheries

In addition, the proposal of a drastic reduction in quotas is further tightened with a proposal to introduce a closing period for cod fishing in the first 3 months of the year - a proposal that is not considered to have any effect on the development of the stock. - We do not understand the Commission's proposal. It does not make sense to close the fishery in some of the most important months for fishermen. Cod in the western Baltic is doing well - better than in the last 10 years. It is not fair to impose such a restriction without a substantial basis. One may wonder whether the European Commission has thought about the far-reaching negative consequences for the fisheries, says Kim Kær Hansen.

 

A failed cod management

Both for cod in the eastern part and for cod in the western part of the Baltic Sea the conclusion is that the fishing industry is forced to pay the price for several years of incorrect fisheries management.

- The EU has for several years now tried to manage cod in the Baltic Sea according to inflexible and square management plans. It must give food for thought that the fishery's impact on the stock is so small that the management plans do not work as intended. We need a management that incorporates fishermen's knowledge and gives room for the industry, says Michael Andersen, Chief Scientific Advisor at the Danish Fishermen PO.

He also points out that it is the recommendation of the Danish Fishermen PO to drop the proposed closing period and to set a quota for cod in the western Baltic Sea at the level of the quota for 2019. According to the scientific advice, this will still provide a positive stock development for the cod.

 

Herring in the Western Baltic

Also, for herring in the western part of the Baltic Sea, there is concern about the Commission's proposal for a 71% reduction.

- The Commission’s proposal is far too wide and makes no sense. If the quota is kept at this year's level, it follows from the biological advice that a 20% growth in the stock can be achieved. - and at the same time respect the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy, says Svend-Erik Andersen.

Facts

  • The Commission’s proposal will be negotiated by the Ministers for fisheries
  • Adoption of the quotas is expected to take place at the Council meeting 14th– 15thOctober in Luxembourg.