Brussels unveils Baltic fishing fleet reduction plans

A provisional agreement on legislation that would allow Baltic Sea fishers affected by the dire condition of certain fish stocks in the region to leave the fishing sector with financial support from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) has been reached by the European Parliament, the council, and the commission.

The new agreement specifically concerns vessel owners in affected E.U. member states that want to permanently decommission their vessels that used to target eastern cod or that are active in the western cod and herring fishery.

E.U. Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said that it was important the agreement – made on 23 September – was reached because it offers relief to those fishers 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,” Sinkevičius said.

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.

The commission has proposed further reductions for 2021.

According to the commission, while these decisions were necessary to give the fisheries a chance to recover, they could also potentially result in severe and unavoidable economic hardship for the fishing communities and fleets traditionally targeting those stocks.

At the council meeting of 14 and 15 October, 2019, the commission and fisheries ministers agreed to help those fishers most affected by this economically difficult situation. That same month, the commission adopted a proposal to modify the relevant legislation.

This new agreement is intended to address the potentially severe economic impact of these necessary measures.

It is expected that the European Parliament and the council will confirm the agreement in the coming weeks.

Photo courtesy of VanderWolf Images/Shutterstock


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