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Update on Eastern Baltic Cod

Published on May 16, 2019

Below we provide a list of recent documents and correspondence concerning Eastern Baltic Cod (EBC), with the date of publication or corresponding meeting for each document.

We think it will aid clarity and discussion to put these documents in one place online. We hope that if all stakeholders see the same documents they may more easily share a common understanding and take joint initiatives to save what can be saved of Eastern Baltic Cod.

 

Latest news

On April 19 the Swedish agriculture and fisheries minister Jennie Nilsson and environment minister Isabella Lövin gave their view on the crisis for Eastern Baltic Cod in a debate article in morning daily Svenska Dagbladet. The article describes the dramatic decline of the stock and the many “large threats” against the cod stock, e.g. eutrophication and dead seabeds, parasites, lack of food and high fishing pressure. The government is working on “alternative course of actions that match the gravity of the situation”, including other environmental measures and seal management, that can help the stock recover, but “a full closure of the Baltic Sea cod fishery can not be ruled out”. An informal English translation can be found here.

On April 24 the Lithuanian vice minister Darius Liutikas wrote “Lithuania has already initiated preparations for emergency measures….The emergency measures consist of closing fishing activities in Subdivisions 25-32 by two additional months in June and August 2019 for Lithuanian fishing vessels fishing for cod”. He added that “we are aware of the deteriorating condition of eastern Baltic cod stock…it is our national interest to protect eastern Baltic cod in a sustainable manner”.

On April 25 the Danish fisheries minister Eva Kjer Hansen also reacted to the crisis in a press release. “Everything suggest that the biologist will recommend that the fishery is closed next year, but the fishery should be limited already this year”, said the minister, and continued: “Therefore I will propose that the cod quota for the eastern Baltic Sea is cut by 70 percent already this year”.

On April 26 the NGO Our Fish commented on the Danish ministers initiative saying it was “Far too little, far too late” in a press release. “The Minister’s proposal to reduce the quota by 70% is less impressive than she would have us believe – an enormous 7,233 tonnes of cod will still be fished, under the questionable auspices of ‘unavoidable by catch’, said Cathrine Pedersen Schirmer, Our Fish campaign coordinator in Denmark.

On May 14 the Polish Minister Marek Grobarczyk wrote a letter highlighting that since 2015 he has called for “immediate remedial measures to help rebuild the stock” when it was clear that eastern Baltic cod was in a critical condition. He further highlighted the need for and benefits of closed areas that allow for undisturbed spawning. In addition Poland has implemented several national measures such as a trawling ban within 6 nautical miles of its coastline, changes to their fisheries control procedures and the introduction of fishing quotas for unregulated stocks such as sandeel that are one of the main sources of cod food. An informal English translation can be found here.

On May 15 the German State Secretary Walter Dübner replied on behalf of Minister Julia Klöckner, stating that “given the strained state of the eastern cod, I am confident that the BALTFISH High Level Group will succeed in agreeing to appropriate measures to restore the stock”. An informal English translation can be found here.

On May 29 The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) published their scientific advice for Eastern Baltic cod and recommend that the fishery is closed, “there should be zero catch in 2020”.

On May 29 this scientific recommendation led to renewed calls from NGOs for the EU to implement Emergency Measures with immediate effect and close the fishery. “The only sane response to the collapse of the eastern cod population is to stop all fishing now and develop a recovery plan, rather than wait for 2020”, said Nils Höglund, Fishery and marine policy officer, Coalition Clean Baltic. “With this clear advice from ICES, EU Member States must act without delay – and if they do not, the Commission must take action – there are still fish that can be saved, and spawning season is happening right now”.

On June 3 the Swedish government writes in a press release that they will advocate for “a ban on fishing from the cod quota in the eastern stock during the period 1 July – 31 December 2019” in BALTFISH, the regional high level group. “During 2020, the catch quota for the same area, except for unavoidable by-catch, should be zero. In order to secure the cod’s access to food, Sweden also sees other measures need to be introduced, including the suspension of sprat and herring / herring within the geographical areas where this is scientifically justified.”

 

Documents and correspondence

This article will be a living document and additional information will be added as and when it becomes available.

  1. Conclusions from the BSAC workshop on Eastern Baltic Cod on 29 Jan 2019.
  2. Report back to BSAC members from observers to the WKBALTCOD2 – ICES benchmark on Baltic cod Feb 2019.
  3. Letter by Baltic NGOs to Commission on 14 Feb 2019.
  4. Press release by Baltic NGOs re Eastern Baltic Cod on 21 Feb 2019.
  5. Commission response to Baltic NGOs on 13 March 2019.
  6. Letter from the Commission to Chairs of BALTFISH and BSAC on 27 Feb 2019.
  7. BSAC reply to Commission re Eastern Baltic cod on 22 March 2019.
  8. Letter from BSAC to Commission and BALTFISH regarding January workshop on Eastern Baltic cod on 4 March 2019.
  9. Letter of reply from BALTFISH to BSAC on 26 March 2019.
  10. Low Impact Fisheries of Europe: Final call for Eastern Baltic cod on 15 March 2019
  11. Document describing the ICES benchmark process.
  12. Document with the wording of articles 12 & 13 of the CFP.
  13. Letter to Fisheries Ministers of EU Member States in the Baltic Sea region from NGO coalition on 11 April 2019.
  14. Excerpts: Conclusions and findings of ICES benchmark report on Eastern Baltic cod on 5 April 2019
  15. ICES benchmark report for Eastern and Western Baltic cod stocks on 5 April 2019
  16. Debate article from Swedish Fisheries Minister and Swedish Environment Minister on 19 April (in Swedish)
  17. Debate article from Swedish Fisheries Minister and Swedish Environment Minister on 19 April (informal English translation)
  18. Letter from Lithuanian Vice Minister to Baltic NGOs on 24 April 2019
  19. Press release from Danish Minister on 25 April 2019 (in Danish)
  20. Press release from Our Fish responding to Danish Minister on 26 April 2019
  21. Letter from Polish Minister to Commissioner Vella on 14 March 2019 (in Polish)
  22. Letter from Polish Minister to Baltic NGOs on 14 May 2019 (in Polish)
  23. Letter from Polish Minister to Baltic NGOs on 14 May 2019 (informal English translation)
  24. Letter from Polish Minister to ICES on 29 May 2018 (in Polish and English)
  25. Letter from German State Secretary to Baltic NGOs on 15 May 2019 (in German)
  26. Letter from German State Secretary to Baltic NGOs on 15 May 2019 (informal English translation)
  27. ICES advice for Eastern Baltic cod in 2020 on 29 May 2019
  28. ICES stock annex for Eastern Baltic cod in 2020 on 29 May 2019
  29. ICES response to EU request on immediate measures to safeguard Eastern Baltic cod on 29 May 2019
  30. Press release by Baltic NGOs in response to ICES advice on 29 May 2019
  31. Press release by the Swedish Government on 3 June 2019 (Swedish)