The European Commission proposes a decrease for the Baltic fishing opportunities by 7% compared to 2017, offering a highly differentiated proposal by the type of fishery for 2018.
The proposal, which is a part of a long-term approach, aims to adjust and maintain the level of fishing at long-term sustainable levels, ensuring a stable fishing pressure, higher quotas and hence an improved income for fishermen and their families.
Decisions taken on the Baltic fishing opportunities over the past years have already succeeded in an increase of the biomass for pelagic stocks by 50% between 2012 and 2016, and in rebalancing fishing capacity and fishing opportunities. However, it is a common understanding that progress is still necessary to rebuild demersal stocks, even at levels that are still under safe biomass limits.
Taking the above into account, the Commission proposal would decrease quotas of western, Gulf of Bothnia and Gulf of Riga herring, eastern cod and plaice stocks – on average by 32%. An increase is proposed for Central herring and sprat stocks by 25% and 0.5% respectively. The amount of the Baltic fishing opportunities for salmon stocks expressed in a number of pieces of fish will increase from 106.413 to 116.099 fish. This represents an increase of 9% when compared to 2017, while a roll-over is proposed for the western cod stock.
This year’s proposal also includes a ban on Baltic Eel fisheries, not traditionally a part of the annual allowable catch proposals but a necessary step due to alarming scientific evidence and historically low levels. Environment Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Commissioner Karmenu Vella, underlined that The EU “must learn from these success stories and act urgently for those stocks that are still in a worrying state, like the European eel,” while presenting the fisheries quotas “balancing package”, suggesting that “responsible management measures by the EU member states and the fishing industry are paying off.”