In 2005, the scientific advice provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) on the state of Baltic Sea fish stocks highlighted that illegal fishing for some species was widespread and unsustainable. Moreover, ICES maintained that such illegal activities severely compromised its ability to produce sound, science-based advice on several commercial fisheries in the region.
Estimates of illegal catches of cod were in the region of 40 per cent of the total catch, a figure which was both unsustainable and unacceptable. Against this background, the Fisheries Secretariat (FISH) decided to undertake a 6-month scoping study to review the illegal fishing problem and subsequently, if appropriate, recommend how FISH and other relevant stakeholders could effectively contribute to improving compliance with applicable European fisheries regulations in the Baltic.
Scoping study: brief overview
The scoping study set out to describe the illegal fishing problem, taking into account social, economic and environmental considerations. In addition, it included a review of the legislative and institutional frameworks within the Baltic Sea, and how they operated with respect to commercial fisheries.
The potential to improve compliance with the regulations was considered. In addition, possible opportunities for FISH and other relevant stakeholders to effectively engage and contribute to improving the situation overall were explored. The scoping study was carried out between September 2005 and March 2006 by Paul Knapman at ORCA-EU.