On October 9th, the EU’s Agriculture and Fisheries Council (AGRIFISH) are due to meet in Luxembourg where ministers will decide on catch limits for the Baltic Sea in 2018. Oceana has actively been advocating for the Total Allowable Catches (TACs) to be in line with scientific advice and with the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) commitments, in particular, ending overfishing latest by 2020.
“We demand the ministers to stop overfishing in the Baltic Sea and set fishing limits that allow for stocks to recover, said Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Oceana Europe. “Ending overfishing in EU waters is not only good for the environment; it’s also good for the economy. Ensuring healthy fish stocks and exploiting them at their maximum sustainable yield could generate 4.9 billion euros a year to EU economies and create more than 92 thousand new jobs,” Gustavsson added.
In August, the European Commission released its annual proposal for fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea which will be the basis for the final decision. Despite a long history of the western Baltic cod stock being in poor condition, the Commission decided to propose the exact same TAC as the previous year (5597 tonnes), which would set the catch limits much higher than what is considered sustainable.
The scientific recommendation for the Western Baltic Cod states that total commercial catches from the stock in 2018 should be between 1376 tonnes and 3541 tonnes. Due to the poor condition of the stock and severe level of overfishing, Oceana recommends that catches should not exceed the lower threshold of 1376 tonnes.
In just 10 years, the commercial catches of the western cod stock have dropped by more than half, largely due to continuous overfishing. When fished sustainably catches of western Baltic cod can increase by more than 40 thousand tonnes (a 700% increase compared to 2016 catches) generating up to 80 million EUR of additional revenue. But this circumstance is not exclusive to the western cod; if recovered and well-managed catches of fish stocks in the Baltic could increase by 170 thousand tonnes (+25%).
Political decisions are at the heart of the mismanagement of European fisheries. A new study commissioned by Oceana shows that the EU’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could increase by 4.9 billion euros per year if EU fisheries were recovered and well managed.