Fisheries ministers reach a political agreement on Baltic Sea catch limits for the year 2024 for the most commercially significant fish stocks.
At today’s Agriculture and Fisheries Council, ministers reached a political agreement on next year’s total allowable catches (TACs) and quotas for the most commercially significant fish stocks in the Baltic Sea. The agreement is in line with the scientific advice provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and with the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), as well as with the provisions of the multiannual plan for Baltic Sea stocks.
The agreement includes the following:
- due to low biomass levels, the Council decided to continue to set TACs for by-catches only for Western herring (subdivisions 22-24), for Eastern cod (subdivisions 25-32) and for Western cod (subdivisions 22-24)
- in the case of herring in the Gulf of Bothnia (subdivisions 30-31) and Central herring (subdivisions 25-27, 28.2, 29, 32), to take into account the low biomass levels and allow for the recovery of the stocks, the Council reduced TACs, respectively, by 31% and 43%
- the TAC for salmon in the Gulf of Finland (subdivision 32) was increased by 7%
- in the case of plaice, the fishing opportunities from 2023 were rolled over; while the state of plaice stocks has considerably improved, cod is an unavoidable by-catch in plaice fisheries, so plaice TACs take this into account
- the TACs for Riga herring, main basin salmon and sprat were reduced, respectively, by 17%, 15% and 10%, given the unhealthy situation of the stocks
The agreement reached today shows that we are committed to taking action to tackle environmental concerns and to help rebuild and preserve the Baltic fish stocks, but it also shows our commitment to the Baltic fishing community. The future livelihoods of fishermen and women in the region depend on the long-term sustainability of fishing stocks, so we ensured a fine balance was struck between these two sensitive issues.
Luis Planas Puchades, the Acting Spanish Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
The agreement in detail
The Council’s agreement on TACs and quotas in the Baltic Sea for 2024 is based on the latest scientific advice provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and is in line with the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). It takes into account the socio-economic impact on the fisheries sector, while striving to ensure that the sector remains sustainable in the long term.
The work conducted by BALTFISH, the regional fisheries forum for the Baltic Sea, currently chaired by Poland, contributed to the Council’s efforts to reach today’s political agreement.
In addition to the abovementioned TACs, the Council also agreed on specific measures, including:
- limiting the recreational fishing of salmon to no more than one specimen of adipose fin-clipped salmon retained per fisher per day. After catching the first specimen, recreational fishers will have to stop fishing salmon for the remainder of the day
- prohibiting the recreational fishing of cod in subdivisions 22-26
As part of the political agreement on the Baltic stocks and in accordance with the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the Council also decided on fishing opportunities for Norway pout in the North Sea between the Union and the United Kingdom, since this is a shared stock. Following consultations with the United Kingdom, delegations agreed to establish a Union TAC of 8 234 tonnes, which will apply from 1 November 2023 to 31 October 2024.
Today’s decision will be formally at a forthcoming Council meeting, without discussion, following its legal and linguistic revision. Most provisions will apply from 1 January to 31 December 2024.
Under article 43(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the Council is responsible for fixing and allocating fishing opportunities, on the basis of a Commission proposal and without the need to consult the European Parliament or the European Economic and Social Committee.
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