Historic agreement for the Baltic Sea is a full-blown disaste

14th. October 2021

Since the European Commission presented its proposal for the fishing opportunities for the Baltic Sea for next year, it has been clear that 2022 will be the worst year in the historyfor the fishermen of the Baltic Sea.

Today, EU fisheries ministers have sealed the proposal, which means – among others, that the quota for cod in the western part of the Baltic Sea is reduced by 88% next year. Furthermore, the targeted fisheries for salmon will be terminated, even though the total stock is in fairly good shape.

We are talking about a disaster for the fishing industry, says chairman for The Danish Fishermen, Svend-Erik Andersen.

- I am deeply concerned about the situation for many fishermen and their families, whose livelihood has been taken away overnight. The politiians in the EU and in the Member States are obliged to find solutions to help the affected fishermen and their families. Because this agreement is a full-blown disaster, says Svend-Erik Andersen.

Danish Fishermen have already and will continue to work on different cessation schemes for fishing vessels, operating in the Baltic Sea. Today’s agreement cements the need for action.

Reality is, that the huge reductions in catch opportunities for the most important species and stocks in the Baltic Sea will cause severe problems for fisheries on other species and stocks. For instance, the huge reduction on the cod quota will have a severe negative impact on the fisheries for flatfishbecause cod is a frequent and unavoidable bycatch in these fisheries, which in combination with a discard ban, is the recipe for disaster.

- Unfortunately, it is beyond any  doubt that there are too many fishing vessels in the Baltic area compared to the available fishing possibilities. Therefore, we must make the necessary adaptation of the fleet, to ensure the balance in the fisheries and give some fishermen the possibility to leave the industry in a worthy manner, says vice-chair of Danish Fishermen, and chair of the Fishermen in Klintholm Havn, Kim Kær Hansen.

Klintholm Havn is one of the ports in the area, that will suffer from today’s agreement.

The Danish minister, responsible for fisheries, Rasmus Prehn, has already made clear, that the Danish government is ready tolunch a permanent cessation scheme to cope with the urgent situation.

- I am happy that the minister is open for establishing a permanent cessation scheme. However, we are also looking for temporary solutions. Some of the fishermen, who are affected by the situation, still believe in the future, and wish to keep their vessels. Those fishermen should also be helped financially. They are only looking for the possibility to tie up for a period without having to fish and still have sufficient economy to keep their vessels, says Svend-Erik Andersen.

Danish Fishermen acknowledges that the Danish minister Rasmus Prehn has been on a mission impossible in Luxembourg. It has for sure been more than difficult to convince the European Commission to show some flexibility when it comes to protect the cod, but nevertheless the industry doubts that these severe deductions and measures will have the predicted effect. The Baltic Sea suffers from many challenges, in terms of the ecosystem, such as pollution, discharge of nutrients, too many seals and cormorants. The situation calls for action and self-reflection, not only in the countries, bordering the Baltic Sea, but also within the European Commission.

- We are talking about a very delicate and complex situation. Reductions in quotas can be done overnight in an academic exercise but are not quick fixes that can safeguard the ecosystem in the Baltic Sea. If there is a genuine will to make a turnaround for the Baltic Sea, decision makers must face music and take solid and holistic solutions, taking all factors into account. Fishery is only one among many other factors, having influence on the situation. It ought to compulsory for the European Commission to follow up on today’s agreement in that respect, ends Kim Kær Hansen.