Systemic dysfunction makes BSAC vice-chair resign

Published on March 1, 2017

Edward Stern, FishSec Policy Officer, has stepped down from his elected position as vice chair of the Baltic Sea Advisory Council (BSAC). FishSec Director Jan Isakson will remain in BSAC as the FishSec representative. Edward will continue working with FishSec in other capacities.

Reine Johansson, BSAC chair, has urged Excom members from the Other Interest Group to identify a new vice chair candidate before the ExCom and General Assembly meeting that will take place on May 11 in Stockholm.

Below the former vice chair shares the letter of resignation that was circulated to BSAC members on 23 February and accepted the following day by the BSAC chair.

“It has been my personal pleasure to get to know you, the members of the Baltic Sea Advisory Council, since joining the AC in early 2015. You have given me deep insight to the Baltic, and I appreciate the personal connections and indeed friendships I have developed with some of you. I have every confidence that the BSAC membership includes many kind, compassionate, intelligent men and women eager to collaborate for the future of Baltic coastal communities, fisheries, and environment, putting their own short-term interests aside for a more unified approach to regional management.

That said, I regret that I must resign as vice chair effective immediately. I have allowed the crippling systemic dysfunction of the BSAC to take a personal toll on my own health. I am unable and unwilling to expend any more of my personal energy on this forum. You among the BSAC membership are well aware of the remedial measures necessary to improve functionality.

While my leaving the BSAC may diminish this particular message, I plead with you, whether you are a concerned EU citizen or a leading political figure in your home country, to take my following words to heart. Collaboration in the BSAC is more than the weight of a single advice document; these working and personal relationships are a direct manifestation of the ‘ties that bind’ the European Union together. BSAC is not just an expert group providing advice to the Commission, but an avenue for real peacemaking and common understanding among different cultures, peoples, and ways of knowing.

Genuine dialogue can only begin if you, the members, approach each other with sincerity and an attitude of forgiveness and reconciliation. This is how you build understanding, and much of the current dialogue is not conducive to this goal.

Please consider my resignation effective at the close of business today, 23 February 2017. Jan Isakson, Director at the Fisheries Secretariat, will continue to participate as the formal FishSec member of the Executive Committee.”

The Low Impact Fishers of Europe also publicised their thoughts on Edward’s resignation:

“It is with considerable regret that LIFE has learned that Edward Stern has resigned as vice chair of Baltic Sea Advisory Council (BSAC).

Although US-born and bred, Ed is a champion of European values. He was highly qualified for the job, and brought to bear his remarkable practical knowledge, strong personal motivation, awareness of the central importance of coastal communities in fisheries, and his willingness to move beyond the fisheries sector-environmental NGO conflicts that tend to bog down meaningful dialogue.

The views expressed in his resignation letter on the future functioning of BSAC, including the added value of BSAC deliberations to management of European fisheries, should be carefully considered by all actors within the Advisory Council. They show the necessity of going beyond a mere juxtaposition of represented interests summarized by a majority vote, for the benefit of long-term future of all actors in Baltic fisheries. We believe these views are relevant for all the Advisory Councils.

Ed, we will miss you in the BSAC!”