The Baltic Sea, as the first region to implement the requirements of the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), has been considered as a progressive region to model more sustainable fisheries management. Yesterday, these expectations were sadly not met when the Fisheries Council decided to exceed the CFP objectives for eight of the Baltic Sea stocks.
Under the new CFP the objective of reaching fishing mortality levels at or below Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) by 2015 were only partly agreed for four out of the twelve Baltic stocks (all herring stocks) even though the scientific advice provided by the International Council for Exploitation of the Sea (ICES) was overall more precautionary.
The uncertain condition of the Baltic cod, as described by the scientists, has not been taken into consideration as the western Baltic cod stock was only reduced with 6,5 % to 15,900 tonnes instead of 53% advised by ICES and for the eastern Baltic stock a reduction of 22% to 5,1429 tonnes instead of the ICES recommended reduction of 56%.
“Sadly, the Fisheries Ministers did not adhere to the benefits of the precautionary approach in implementing the new CFP” added Ottilia Thoreson, Manager, WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme. “The decision is still focused on optimising overall catch volumes rather than basing it firmly on an ecosystem-based management.”
Last night, Commissioner Damanaki stated that she considered the more regionalized process to be successful although the outcome was less ambitious than desired by the Commission.
WWF welcomes the need for long-term multispecies management plans for fisheries but is concerned that it is too early to agree on a multispecies plan for the Baltic Sea in light of the still unclear situation for the Baltic cod.
For the Baltic salmon stocks the decision is still not satisfactory for the stocks of the main basin and the Gulf of Bothnia as it does not reflect the estimated illegal catches and the risks that open seas and coastal areas fisheries pose for the depleted salmon populations.