A joint meeting with representatives from BSAC, BALTFISH and EFCA will be held in Hamburg, Germany, March 9, to review the monitoring, control and enforcement of the landing obligation that entered into force 1 January 2015 in the Baltic Sea. Still, one out of four cod caught in the Eastern Baltic stock was thrown back dead in the sea during 2015, amounting to 18 million individuals, according to ICES.
The Hamburg meeting was announced at the last Baltic Sea Advisory Council Executive Committee (BSAC ExCom) meeting, held on 31 January in Warsaw, Poland. On the agenda were also administrative topics, advice for the Commission’s Technical Measures Framework proposal, a proposed gear-development network, meeting attendance compensation for small-scale fishers, the establishment of a new working group on ecosystem based fisheries management and several presentations.
Pascal Savouret from the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) was in attendance. He presented the draft agenda for the planned meeting on control and enforcement. Topics include a review of current implementation challenges in the introduction of this law and preparation for full implementation of the landing obligation, starting 1 January 2018.
Ecosystem working group and gear development
Items approved during this ExCom include the workplan and budget for the coming year, and the terms of reference for a new working group, subordinate to the demersal working group, to examine a variety of ecosystem-wide concerns related to Baltic fisheries. Nils Höglund, ExCom member from Coalition Clean Baltic, will chair this group. Advice for the Technical Measures Framework proposal, up to Article 31 and including Annex 8, is nearly complete pending clarification of one item regarding the difference between fishing gear modification and innovation.
Staffan Larsson, representing the Swedish Cod Fishers Producer Organisation, proposed the first formal gear development network for the Baltic region. Following up on his organisation’s work with scientists in Sweden to improve gear selectivity of target species and to reduce bycatch, this Baltic-wide network would provide a forum for fishers from all member states to share experiences, knowledge, and best practices in gear design. The demersal cod fishery is the initial focus of this group.
Compensation for small scale fishers clarified
A decision on how to manage compensation for small scale fishers attending BSAC meetings, in line with Commission Delegated Act 2015/242, was tabled for further discussion after a commission intervention. Evangelia Georgitsi, DG Mare, noted that BSAC has misinterpreted the intent and target group for compensation, stating “it’s not about lunch…it’s only for professional small-scale fishermen coming directly to the meeting, not the representatives of small-scale fishermen.” Georgitsi further clarified that the compensation is specifically for loss of income, such that fishers who would actively otherwise be at sea are compensated for lost fishing opportunities.
Three presentations concluded the meeting regarding tagging work in the TABACOD project that seeks to develop a new ageing method for Baltic cod, a DTUAQUA/MIR summary of the autumn Baltic fishery survey with preliminary findings, and a WWF presentation on their ongoing work to remove derelict fishing gear from the sea floor. Summaries of these projects are all available on the BSAC website here.
A point on external representation at meetings was postponed.
We will share BSAC’s official report of the meeting here once it is complete.
 ICES, Report of the Baltic Fisheries Assessment Working Group (WGBFAS) p.63 – http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Expert%20Group%20Report/acom/2016/WGBFAS/01%20WGBFAS%20Report%202016.pdf