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Commission proposes fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2017

The European Commission yesterday tabled its proposal on fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2017.

The proposal is based on the recently adopted multiannual fisheries management plan for the Baltic Sea, and takes into consideration scientific advice received in May 2016. The Commission proposes to increase catch limits for 6 out of 10 fish stocks (Western, Bothnian and Central herring, sprat, plaice and main basin salmon) and to decrease catch limits for 2 stocks (Gulf of Riga herring and Gulf of Finland salmon). The Commission is collecting more information before proposing catch limits for the remaining 2 stocks (Western and Eastern cod).

Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for the Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, said yesterday: "Making Europe's fisheries sustainable is a key deliverable of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy. The fishing opportunities proposed today are set with this objective firmly in mind. This is good news for all those who have an interest in healthy fisheries, first and foremost fishermen themselves."

In socio-economic terms the Commission proposal should improve overall economic performance in the Baltic Sea as a whole, in spite of significant differences across fleets segments and fisheries. This proposal could increase both profits by €13 million and employment at sea basin level.

The biggest proposed increase concerns plaice, whose catch limit under this proposal would rise by 95%. This reflects the good shape of the stock, which has been growing since 2008. It is also due to the fact that, from 2017 onwards, fishermen will have to land all plaice they catch in an effort to eliminate the wasteful practice of discarding.

At the same time, the state of the Western Baltic cod does not seem to have improved this year, according to the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). Fishing pressure from commercial and recreational fisheries remains high, and past measures have not had the desired effect in helping the stock to recover.

The Commission is examining with national authorities and stakeholders – including commercial and recreational fishermen – which steps are needed to give this stock a chance to recover, while also ensuring the economic viability of the fishing industry.

Member States can use allocations from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) to support fishermen through a period of necessary quota reductions. The Commission has already assured the Member State authorities of its support in making such funding available quickly and efficiently.

In addition, the Commission has asked its scientific advisory body STECF to analyse the impact of recreational fishing on Baltic cod stocks and assess different possible stock management measures. The Commission will propose catch limits for the Baltic cod stocks (Western and Eastern) once these clarifications are available.

The proposal will be discussed by Member States' fisheries ministers at the October Fisheries Council in Luxembourg.

Background

The Commission's proposal is in line with the Commission's Communication on Fishing Opportunities for 2017[1].

The Baltic Sea Advisory Council (BSAC) has also been consulted.

Table: Overview of TAC changes 2016-2017 (figures in tonnes except for salmon, which is in number of pieces)

Stock and 
ICES fishing zone; subdivision

2016

2017

Commission proposal 
(in tonnes and % change from 2015 TAC)

Basis for proposal

Council agreement (TAC) 
(in tonnes and % change from 2015 TAC)

Commission proposal 
(in tonnes and % change from 2016 TAC)

Basis for proposal

Eastern Cod

25-32

41143

-20%

Consistent with the data limited approach

41143

-20%

-

-

Western Cod

22-24

10363

-35%

MSY

12720

-20%

-

-

Western Herring

22-24

24797

12%

MSY

26274

18%

28401

8%

Multiannual management plan, target fishing mortality value as referred to in Article 4(2), (3) and (4)

Bothnian Herring

30-31

103254

-35%

MSY

120872

-24%

140998

17%

Riga Herring

28.1

30623

-21%

MSY

34915

-10%

27429

-21%

Central Herring

25-27, 28.2, 29, 32

177505

9%

MSY

177505

9%

191129

8%

Sprat

22-32

184336

-14%

MSY

202320

-5%

282349

40%

Plaice

22-32

4034

18%

MSY

4034

18%

7862

95%

MSY

Main Basin Salmon

22-31

105850

10%

MSY

95928

0%

105696

10%

MSY

Gulf of Finland Salmon

32

10024

-24%

Precautionary considerations

13106

0%

9403

-28%

Precautionary considerations


[1] Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council, Consultation on the fishing opportunities for 2017 under the Common Fisheries Policy. COM(2016) 396 final.

Press contacts:

General public inquiries: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 67 89 10 11 or by email

 

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