Baltic Sea: Council agreement on 2020 catch limits

Today, the Council agreed on next year’s total allowable catches (TACs) and member states’ quotas for the ten most commercially important fish stocks in the Baltic Sea. This agreement therefore sets out how much European fishermen will be able to fish and under what conditions.

In line with the latest scientific advice highlighting poor conditions in the Baltic Sea, the Council decided to decrease fishing opportunities for the majority of fish stocks. TACs were moderately increased only for herring in the Gulf of Riga, and were maintained for salmon in the Gulf of Finland.

Cuts were particularly significant for cod, with a 60% decrease in the Western part of the Baltic Sea, and the permission to have by-catches only in the Eastern part.

“Some courageous decisions had to be taken to preserve the health of the Baltic Sea fish stocks and the longer term sustainability of fisheries in the area. Today’s agreement not only allows for stock recovery, but also helps mitigate the socio-economic effects on EU fishermen.”

The agreement in detail

Based on a Commission proposal, the agreed quantities take into account the commitment to meet the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), including the achievement of MSY, as well as scientific advice provided in particular by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). The provisions of the multiannual management plan for the Baltic sea have also been closely followed.

In addition to setting TACs and national quotas on some species, the Council agreed on additional measures on cod stocks such as:

– stricter limits for recreational fisheries (bag limitations of five specimens per fisherman per day as a general rule)

– longer closure periods in subdivisions 25 and 26 (from 1 May to 31 August), in subdivisions 22-23 (from 1 February to 31 March), and in subdivision 24 (from 1 June to 31 July)

As the large agreed reductions in fishing opportunities will lead to adverse socio-economic consequences for affected fisheries, the member states in the Baltic Sea and the Commission emphasised the importance of ensuring proper management of the crisis.

Preparatory work conducive to finding swift agreement was carried out at regional level through BALTFISH, a body providing a platform for discussion on important fisheries issues in the Baltic Sea, currently under Finland’s chairmanship.

Next steps

This item will be formally adopted by the Council by written procedure.