The 15th of March, European Parliament, the Council and the Commission finally agreed on a new management plan for the main commercial fish stocks in the Baltic Sea. CCB and many other NGOs have worked hard to present our views on what is needed to safeguard the stocks in the Baltic and we can now conclude that the result is not at all what we had hoped for.
The plan allows to set F, the fishing mortality, above the Maximum Sustainable Yield level. This means that the Council can continue to decide on catches every year that does not meet the ambition of the CFP reform, catch levels that ignore the scientific advice. This also means that reaching Good Environmental Status under the MSFD and reaching the goal of “healthy fish stocks” in HELCOMs BSAP is very difficult, if not impossible.
There are so called safeguards in the plan, stating that higher fishing mortality levels can only be used under certain circumstances. The main example is that only when a stock is in good condition, such higher levels can be used. It remains to be seen if this has any practical meaning at all. For example, last years Council decision on catches on the Western cod stock was set far above what science advised on despite the fact the the stock is under the biomass level set in this plan as the “emergency level” Blim.
The ambition to really rebuild fish stocks, making it possible not only for the stocks to replenish but also provide a future for fishermen, is hard to find in this new plan. The Baltic plans now sets a president for other plans to come and it looks like EU will continue to be the bad example in the world of fisheries management.