The European Commission has adopted its proposal for fishing opportunities for 2023 for the Baltic Sea.

The adoption means EU countries will determine the maximum quantities of the most important commercial fish species that can be caught in the sea basin.

The Commission proposes to increase fishing opportunities for central herring and plaice, while maintaining the current levels for salmon and the levels of by-catch of western and eastern cod, as well as western herring. The Commission also proposes to decrease fishing opportunities for the four remaining stocks covered by the proposal, in order to improve the sustainability of those stocks and to allow them to recover.

Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, said: “I remain worried about the poor environmental status of the Baltic Sea. Despite some improvements, we are still suffering from the combined effects of eutrophication and slow response to tackle this challenge. We must all take responsibility and take action together. This is the only way to ensure that our fish stocks become healthy again and that our local fishers could rely again on them for their livelihoods. Today’s proposal goes in this direction.”

There have been major efforts to rebuild fish stocks in the Baltic Sea over the course of the last decade. Where complete scientific advice was available, fishing opportunities had already been set in line with the principle of maximum sustainable yield for seven out of eight stocks, covering 95% of fish landings by volume.

However, commercial stocks of western and eastern cod, western herring, and the many salmon stocks in both the southern Baltic Sea and the rivers of the southern Baltic EU member states are under severe environmental pressure from habitat loss, due to the degradation of their living environment.

The total allowable catches proposed are based on the best available peer-reviewed scientific advice from the International Council on the Exploration of the Seas and follow the Baltic multiannual management plan adopted in 2016 by the European Parliament and the Council.

Image copyright: Mike Bonitz