With the 2002 reform of the common fishery policy (CFP), multiannual management plans started to replace the year-to-year management of fish stocks in European Community waters. Social and economic factors play an important role in determining the success or the failure of these plans. A successful multiannual management plan is one that not only ensures the sustainable exploitation of the fish stocks in their associated ecosystems, but also sustains the existing fishing communities and fleets.
On Monday 23 January 2023 a public hearing was held in the European Parliament on the State of play of the implementation of the Multiannual Plan (MAP) for the Baltic Sea. You can listen and watch a recording of the event here. (The hearing starts at 17.03.40)
The agenda gives an indication of where you can find the different presentations in the hearing:
17.00-17.05 Mr Pierre Karleskind, PECH Chair – welcome and opening address
7.05-17.15 Mr Henrik Svedäng, Associate Professor of marine ecology at the Stockholm University Baltic Sea Centre, Sweden. “Changes in Baltic fish stock productivity: status and drivers”
17.15-17.25 Mr Vesa Tschernij, Marine Centre of the municipality of Simrishamn, Sweden. “Changes needed: Effects of current implementation of fishery policies on environment and local communities”
17.25-17.45 Dr Katarzyna Stepanowska, Darłowska Group of Fish Producers and Shipowners, Poland
Mr Michael Wall Andersen Chief Scientific Advisor, Danish Fishermen Producer Organisation, Denmark.
“The functioning, achievements and difficulties in the MAP in regards of targeted fish stocks in the Eastern and Western Baltic waters”
17.45-17.55 Mrs Cathrine Pedersen Schirmer, Chief Marine Policy Advisor for Danmarks Naturfredningsförening (Danish Society for Nature Conservation)
“The state of the sea, vulnerable stocks (cod, salmon, and eel), and measures needed to secure sustainable fishing in the Baltic”
18.15-18.25 Floor to the Baltic Sea Advisory Council and DG MARE, European Commission
18.25-18.30 Wrap-up and conclusions by Mr Pierre Karleskind, PECH Chair
Social impact assessments (SIAs) are important for evaluating the MAPs potential success and provide an appraisal of possible social ramifications, as well as possible proposals for alternative approaches. Conducting studies of community profiles to identify socio-economic, demographic, and cultural characteristics of small-scale fishing communities is the first step to understanding the potential impacts of multiannual management plans. This type of information is also a prerequisite for mitigating possible negative consequences on fishing communities. For example, a quota reduction may result in fishers within a specific segment going out of business. However, in letting this happen, the perceptions within communities and their willingness to support the segment are important factors.
The EU multiannual plan (MAP) for cod, herring and sprat fisheries in the Baltic Sea was unique in its kind when it entered into force in July 2016. The aim was to create better conditions for complying to the Common Fisheries Policy and the objectives of environmentally, economically and socially sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.
In September 2020 the European Commission presented an evaluation of the first four years with the MAP. It is no exaggeration to say that the development has not gone exactly according to plan, looking at the health of the fish stocks. For many of the Baltic Sea’s most important commercial fish stocks, the situation is critical. Worst off is the Eastern Baltic cod stock, which is on the verge of collapse.
EU Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevicius, notes that the evaluation nevertheless shows that ‘we cannot blame the fishing sector alone’, and points out that many of today’s serious problems are caused by impacts that began ‘long before 2016′, such as eutrophication, overfishing and emissions of environmental toxins.