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Race to Save the Baltic – different timeframes in place

Published: 29/06/2012

It became clear during the seminar this Thursday that winning the Race to Save the Baltic is a matter of time, if the right policies are put in place.

For fisheries management, results on fish stocks can often be seen within five years after political decisions and actions have been carried out. As has been shown with the recovery of the Eastern Baltic cod stock. Whereas, for eutrophication and agricultural matters, the time between when a political decision has been made to when the results can be seen in the Baltic Sea can take as long as 20-30 years.

This Thursday the Race to Save the Baltic 2012 – Baltic Sea Decision Makers Seminar was held during the during the ÅF Offshore Race in Stockholm, where a number of high-level decision makers as well as experts in the fields of fisheries management and water quality gathered to discuss the status of the marine environment and fishery management in the Baltic Sea and at EU level. The event was organised by GLOBE Sweden with the support of Zennström Philanthropies and in co-operation with Coalition Clean Baltic, Oceana and the Fisheries Secretariat.

The focus of the morning was on eutrophication and agriculture and its impact the Baltic Seas marine ecosystem. Much focus was on the CAP reform and the HELSOM BSAP where Maria Staniszewska, Polish Ecological Club, and Dr. Dietrich Schulz, Federal Environment Agency Dessau-Roβlau, stressed the need that the CAP reform, within its first pillar, needed to include limits for both fertilizers and stocking rate. Prof. Christoph Humborg from the Baltic NEST highlighted that due to time lags in the natural system, it may take 20-30 years before we see the full results of the political actions taken today.

Dr. Rainer Froese from the Helmholtz-Centre for Ocean Research started the afternoon with a quick review of the MSY concept and continued with encouraging new data and possibilities for using the ecosystem-based approach for MSY in the Baltic Sea. The Baltic cod fishery management was given as an example to demonstrate the use of MSY and that it is a good concept, once the scientific recommendations are being followed. In the Baltic Cod example, decision makers followed the scientific advice, adopted an MSY fishery management approach and as a result the Baltic cod stocks recovered. Several participants later raised concerns about ICES latest report and its recommendations for multi-species management for the Baltic Sea. Participants emphasized that an increase in fishing mortality would not be compatible with an MSY approach and that the report lacked options for ecosystem-based fishery management.

The day ended with a panel discussion where the panel was asked to reflect on the Fisheries Management in the Baltic region in relation to the EU Common Fisheries Policy Reform. Staying above MSY levels, management regionalisation, elimination of discards and ecosystem-based management where among the top priorities when the high-level decision makers and fisheries management experts were asked to give their three top priorities for the CFP reform. Isabella Lövin MEP (Greens/EFA, Sweden), and Lars Tysklind MP, stressed the need to include allocation of resources with particular focus on small scale fisheries. Marcin Rucinski, the Polish fisheries attaché joined the debate calling for the discard ban to prioritise selectivity and for further discussions to take place regarding the use of unwanted catches. Franz Lamplmair, DG MARE Fishery Policy Adviser, highlighted his wish to see a clear and obligatory participation from all Member States to decrease fishing capacity.

What is clear from the discussions is that there is a strong consensus among high-level decision makers and fisheries management experts. Staying above MSY levels, having a more regionalised fishery management and moving towards an ecosystem-based management approach are key priorities for the CFP reform.