The Baltic Sea Advisory Council (BSAC), a publicly funded body providing advice on fisheries to the European Commission, has made a statement concerning the need for responsible fisheries management and the negative situation for eastern Baltic cod. The cod fishery has been closed since July 2019 and due to slow population recovery will likely remain so for several years to come.
Given the dire situation facing the collapsed stock, “the BSAC therefore recommends the creation of a taskforce focused on the recovery of the eastern Baltic cod and emphasises the need for responsible fisheries.”
According to the statement, “the outlook for the eastern Baltic cod stock continues to be uncertain and restrictions on the fisheries can be expected to stay in place in the coming years”. Furthermore, “a strong appeal is made by the BSAC to all the commercial and recreations/sports fishers in the Baltic to comply with the legal requirements, including the landing obligation.”
As the cod fishery is now closed fishermen are increasingly targeting flatfish such as plaice and flounder. There is however no quota or fishing limit in place for flounder and these fish are caught together with cod. Therefore, even though the cod fishery is closed it is still being caught particularly by trawlers that now may target stocks for which there are no restrictions.
To mitigate these issues the BSAC chair states; “as the cod stock has been severely reduced, it becomes even more important to avoid bycatches of cod in non-directed fisheries”. Therefore, “the BSAC encourages the adoption of the new selective gears that have been tried out and developed and that have been proven to reduce the bycatch of cod in the flatfish fishery”
FishSec has detailed the collapse of the eastern Baltic cod stock and the political decisions that were taken to close the fishery and safeguard the stock here. We fully support the creation of a taskforce that is focused on the recovery of this crucial fish stock.