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Map of the Baltic Sea and ICES Areas

Baltic Sea fishing: Council agrees on 2021 catch limits

EUROPEAN UNION
Tuesday, October 20, 2020, 17:10 (GMT + 9)

Today, the Council reached an agreement on next year's fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea, focusing on fish stock recovery. Ministers agreed to continue decreasing the fishing opportunities for several fish stocks in the Baltic Sea to help them recover. Ministers decided to continue the closure of the Eastern Baltic cod fishery and to provide only a by-catch quota, which was again significantly reduced compared to last year's. The biggest cuts in the total allowable catches (TACs) were for the herring of the Western and Central part of the Baltic Sea, in line with the latest scientific advice.

Ministers agreed for a moderate increase of the TACs for herring in the Gulf of Riga, Western Baltic cod, plaice, sprat and salmon in the main basin area of the Baltic Sea, while salmon in the Gulf of Finland will be moderately decreased. The TACs for the Bothnian herring will remain at the same level as last year.

The agreement in detail

Based on a Commission proposal, the agreed quantities take into account the commitment to meet the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), including the achievement of Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY), as well as scientific advice provided in particular by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). The provisions of the multiannual management plan for the Baltic sea were also the guiding principles of this year's exercise.

In addition to setting TACs and quotas on some species, the Council agreed on additional measures such as:

  •     Maintain the existing summer spawning closure for the Eastern Baltic cod with an exception for purely scientific fisheries and small-scale coastal fisheries using specific gears.
  •     Extend the spawning closure period for cod in Subdivision 24.
  •    Maintain the ban on recreational fisheries of Eastern Baltic cod, and maintain the reduced bag limit for Western Baltic cod recreational fisheries.
  •     Declaration by relevant Member States not to use year-to-year flexibility for Eastern Baltic cod.

Traditionally, this regulation also includes an amendment to the 2020 fishing opportunities to take into account recent advice for Norway pout. The Council therefore also decided on fishing opportunities for this important fishery whose season will start at the beginning of November. Given that this stock is partly present in UK waters, the TAC is currently only set until the end of the year and will need to be revised then.

Preparatory work conducive to finding swift agreement was carried out at regional level through BALTFISH, a body providing a platform for discussion on important fisheries issues in the Baltic Sea, currently under Estonia's chairmanship.

Next steps

To ensure the entry into force of this regulation by 1 November for Norway pout fishing activities to continue, after finalisation by the legal/linguists experts, this item will be submitted for adoption by written procedure.

Background

Today's discussions were based on a Commission proposal with article 43(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) as the legal basis. Under this article, it is for the Council to adopt measures on the fixing and allocation of fishing opportunities within the framework of the common fisheries policy. The European Parliament's participation and the Economic and Social Committee's opinion are therefore not required for the adoption of this regulation.

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