The WWF Baltic Programme together with FishSec, Oceana, Our Fish, PEW, the Danish Society for Nature Conservation, the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation, Seas at Risk, Coalition Clean Baltic, Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth Germany, Environmental Action Germany, the Polish Ecological Club, and ClientEarth provided feedback on the effectiveness and implementation of the upcoming fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2023.
It is our hope that through the implementation of urgent measures and better management and protection in the future, we can enable long-term recovery and sustainable exploitation of Baltic Sea stocks, but we note that we are a very long way from there today.
The following text outlines the joint NGO recommendations on Baltic Sea fishing opportunities for 2023 in the context of environmental regulations, EU fisheries legislation, scientific advice on catch limits, and the sharing of stocks with third countries.
Overall, we urge the European Commission to propose, and fisheries ministers to agree on, fishing opportunities in accordance with the following recommendations:
- Set TACs not exceeding scientifically advised levels based on the MSY Approach for all stocks for which MSY-based reference points are available;
- Where MSY-based reference points are not available, set TACs not exceeding the Precautionary Approach catch limits advised by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES);
- Set TACs not exceeding the FMSY point value specified in the Baltic Sea Multi-Annual Plan (MAP).
- Set TACs sufficiently below ICES catch advice to ensure illegal, unreported discarding does not lead to actual catches exceeding ICES catch advice.
- Fully utilise the precautionary approach in relation to mixed fisheries, protecting the most vulnerable stock(s), either by closing areas with high mixing or by substantially reducing quotas to safeguard sub-populations;
- Consider that control with onboard observers was significantly reduced in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and discard rates are subject to high uncertainty;
- Consider the lack of implementation of the Landing Obligation (LO) when setting TACs,8,9 and require remote electronic monitoring (such as cameras) or onboard observers for all vessels above 12 m and for medium and high-risk vessels below 12 m;