Election of Chair, trade in seal products and fishing opportunities high on BSAC agenda

Published on July 9, 2018

Baltic Sea Advisory Council: Executive Committee meeting Thursday 28th June 2018, Copenhagen: Short Report

The secretariat gave an update on expenditure and explained the serious situation with the Baltic Sea Advisory Council (BSAC) economy, due to the suspension of payment by the Commission. The secretariat also informed that the external audit of the BSAC had been successful.

The BSAC now has a personal data policy: Members will be asked to register themselves and their organisations on the EU transparency register.

The Executive Committee (ExCom) approved the BSAC replies to the EU consultation of the Advisory Councils on the new SCIPs (Specific Control and Inspection Programmes), and these will appear here on the BSAC website.

The meeting also dealt with the BSAC draft recommendations on the fishing opportunities for 2019 (final adopted version to be sent to Commission this week). An example of socio-economic consequences of a Western Baltic herring TAC set at zero was given by Benny Christensen, director of “Fiskernes Filetfabrik A/S” in Gilleleje, Denmark. It was agreed to set up a Focus Group to look into western Baltic herring and a recovery plan for the stock.

On seals, the BSAC ExCom approved a letter to the Commission concerning the existing EU ban of commercial use of seal products.

The letter was approved by the majority of ExCom members but concerns were raised by a number of Other Interest Group (OIG) members about the process by which the letter was on the agenda for adoption at this meeting as well as the content of the letter.

It was noted that BSAC has an ecosystem based management working group that has the remit to discuss predator (seal) issues and that this proposed letter should have been discussed at the next working group meeting on 4 September. There is no legislative urgency for this controversial proposal.

There is a process within BSAC set up to discuss these matters and to allow time for members to talk, to discuss issues, to understand each other’s position and to come to some consensus. However, under the Interim Chair Zbigniew Karnicki a consensus position was not sought. Various OIG members pointed out that they could not support the text of the letter as it is and substantive points in the text were not properly discussed. The ExCom concluded the seal discussion with the note of a possible workshop on the topic in 2019.

No decision was taken with regard to amendments to BSAC working procedures once again, and discussion was postponed until the next ExCom meeting on 29 January 2019.

An extraordinary General Assembly meeting is scheduled for 6 November at which the agenda will focus on the election of a new Chairperson for the ExCom.

A full report from this meeting will be available on the BSAC website in due course.