Next Year’s Baltic Cod TACs: Like ICES, like Commission

Published on September 3, 2009

Walking fully in step with this spring’s scientific advice, the EU Commission proposes a 15 percent raise in the 2010 TACs for the Eastern Baltic cod and a 9 percent raise for the smaller Western stock.

That recommendation was the first time in years that International Council for the Sea (ICES) experts had suggested increases for the whole Baltic Sea. The Eastern cod stock, one of the world’s largest 30 years ago but then declining sharply, showed signs of recovery that permitted slightly raised catch quotas even for 2009, but for the severely threatened Western stock, ICES recommended a 28 percent decrease as late as last year. That recommendation was later softened by the Commission and the Council in unison to a 15 percent decrease.

The Western stock is still classified by ICES as being “at risk of reduced reproductive capacity”, but the Scientific Advice, which the Commission proposal now follows, still okayed a 9 percent increase, referring to revised biomass and mortality assessments and a management plan now in place.

For the Central herring stock, the largest in the Baltic, the Commission notes falling recruitment for both that one and other pelagic stocks, “requiring a reduction in the TAC”. The Commission therefore proposes a 15 percent reduction in fishing possibilities for the Central herring stock, and the same percentage reduction for sprat, still a lower bid than from the ICES experts, who had recommended 28 percent and 23 percent reductions, respectively.

As for the Western herring stock, “having taken the economic situation of the sector into consideration”, the Commission proposes a 21 percent TAC reduction. ICES has recommended considerably more, a 31 percent cut.

For salmon in the Baltic main basin, the Commission proposes a 15 percent TAC cut, where ICES had recommended a 57 percent decrease. Since only a small part of the allowed quotas – 35 percent in 2008 – had been utilized in later years, ICES noted in May however, that its recommendation, undramaticly, was “in practice an adjustment to current effort”.

The Baltic fishing opportunities for 2010 will be up for a vote at the October 19-20 Council meeting.