Baltic Sea: Agreement reached on 2021 fishing opportunities

Today, the Commission and the Member States reached an agreement on the fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2021. The agreement comes at a difficult time for the Baltic region, as it struggles with the ongoing environmental threats to the ecosystem and the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, welcomed the agreement: “I am pleased that we have found a compromise that works for the fishermen and women, while allowing fish stocks to replenish and reach healthy levels. This was the rationale of our proposal, which followed the advice of the International Council on the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) and the provisions of the Baltic multi-annual plan. I am happy that the Member States have kept to the spirit of Our Baltic ministerial conference a few weeks ago, when together with agriculture, fisheries and environment ministers from the region, we agreed to address all the factors affecting this fragile ecosystem.” Overall, the agreement means that 8 out of 10 Baltic Sea total allowable catches (TACs) are set at sustainable levels – maximum sustainable yield (MSY). For two out of these stocks this is even below the MSY point value, or – for stocks where scientists could not give MSY-advice – in line with their precautionary advice. Reducing the fishing pressure alone will however not solve the problems of the Baltic Sea. A comprehensive approach is needed in line with the Our Baltic ministerial declaration signed by Commissioner Sinkevičius and Baltic Ministers of Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment three weeks ago. More information on the specificities of the agreement for the different fish stocks is available in the Commissioner’s statement here.