Baltic cod quotas slashed by EU

Supplies of Baltic cod will decline next year in line with significant quota reductions agreed to by EU fisheries ministers at a recent European Commission (EC) meeting.

For 2017, comissioners agreed to a 25 percent cut in the total allowable catch (TAC) for Eastern cod – down to 30,857 metric tons (MT), and a 56 reduction in the Western cod TAC – down to 5,597 MT, which are lower cuts than originally proposed by the commission.

To let Baltic cod stocks recover as quickly as possible, the commission had proposed to reduce the current quota by 88 percent. But as member states agreed to complement quota reductions for Western cod by a comprehensive set of other conservation measures, such as the extension of the fisheries closure period from six to eight weeks and limitations to daily catches by recreational anglers during the closure, the commission said it was satisfied that the reductions were consistent with both scientific advice and the multiannual management plan for the Baltic Sea.

"Science, sustainability and socio-economic considerations have been our guiding principles. The protection of this emblematic species is important – but the livelihoods of our fishermen are also close to my heart, and I could not leave them to deal with such significant quota cuts on their own," said Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

"We count on local knowledge and expertise to further contribute to reversing the stock's alarming condition," he said.

In total, fishing limits were agreed for 10 Baltic Sea fish stocks. These TACs were the first to be set in accordance with the long-term management plan for the Baltic basin, recently been adopted by the Fisheries Council and the European Parliament.

In addition to the cod quota reductions, the EU ministers agreed on an 11 percent cut in the Gulf of Riga herring quota and a 20 reduction for salmon in the Gulf of Finland. However, there were increases announced for herring catches (except in the Gulf of Riga), plaice, and salmon (except in the Gulf of Finland). Ministers also opted for a smaller increase for sprat and for no increase for salmon in the main basin.

Commissioner Vella also received support from most ministers to table a proposal for an effective recovery plan on swordfish at this year’s International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) meeting, which would foresee the introduction of a TAC.


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