Fisheries: EU reaches provisional agreement on reducing fishing fleet in the Baltic with support from EU funds

The European Commission welcomes the provisional agreement on scrapping vessels in the Baltic Sea reached yesterday between the European Parliament and the Council. This agreement would allow fishermen and -women affected by the dire condition of certain fish stocks in the Baltic Sea to leave the fishing sector with the financial support from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), received under specific conditions. The agreement concerns specifically vessel owners in affected Member States wishing to permanently decommission their vessels that used to target eastern cod or that are active in the western cod and herring fishery. Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, said: “It is important that yesterday we could reach an agreement that offers relief to our fishermen and -women who are coping with the dual challenge of the steep reduction of fishing opportunities in the Baltic and the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis. Our actions today have a double function: fostering a healthier, more sustainable Baltic of tomorrow by ensuring the survival of fish stocks, while at the same time supporting the livelihoods of those whom the fish stock crisis in the Baltic Sea has hit the most.” The difficult situation of the two Baltic cod fisheries and the western Baltic herring fishery has resulted in substantial reductions of fishing opportunities and the full closure of targeted eastern Baltic cod fishery since July 2019. Following scientific advice, the Commission therefore proposed further reductions of fishing opportunities for 2021. The agreement reached yesterday will address the potentially severe economic impact of these necessary measures on the fishing communities and fleets traditionally targeting the endangered stocks. It will also address the fishing pressure on the stocks in the Baltic Sea by reducing fishing capacity. The discussions on how the EU will strengthen fisheries control and ensure enforcement of the rules will continue in the upcoming negotiations on the Fisheries Control Regulation. The agreement comes only a few days before the high-level ‘Our Baltic Conference‘, which will discuss the environmental factors affecting the Baltic Sea, such as biodiversity loss and climate change, eutrophication, overfishing and pollution. The European Parliament and the Council both need to confirm this agreement in the coming weeks. More information is available here.