Positions & Papers
Press reactive on ICES advise: No improvement for collapsed stocks – time for a reboot in the Baltic Sea
June 1, 2022
In October 2022, EU fisheries ministers will agree on fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2023. Our joint NGO response to the annual scientific advice for 2023 fishing limits in the Baltic Sea by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) states that the Baltic Sea remains in a dire condition, despite tightening of fishing limits in recent years, and that governments in the region must urgently implement precautionary, ecosystem-based fisheries management and boost control and enforcement. Read the NGO press reactive here.
Updated FINAL NGO recommendations Baltic TACs 2022 based on ICES advice for salmon and western baltic cod
October 8, 2021
When our first Joint NGO recommendations Baltic TACs 2022 was released International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) had not been able to produce their advice for a number of stocks. As soon as the advice was released the Joint recommendations was complemented with a non-paper that was circulated to stakeholders. This updated version of the joint recommendations includes the final recommendations from the non-paper. In October 2021, EU fisheries ministers will agree on fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2022. We have provided a range of recommendations regarding the principles for setting sustainable fishing quotas in line with the Common Fisheries Policy and also specific recommendations for the Total Allowable Catches for each of the Baltic fish stocks that are managed by quota. Read the NGO briefing. 211008 FINAL Joint NGO recommendations Baltic TACs 2022
Letter to Baltic Ministers on Council TAC deliberations for 2020
October 10, 2019
Over 80 NGOs have written to ministers ahead of the October fisheries council meeting at which fishing limits will be set for next year. The letter states that "We welcome the progress that has been made in increasing the number of catch limits set in line with scientific advice. Nevertheless, we remain very concerned that, according to the latest report from the EU’s Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF), more than 40%of the North-East Atlantic stocks are still subject to overfishing. Furthermore, we note with serious concern that the rate of progress toward meeting the requirement to end overfishing has slowed in the last few years, making additional and urgent efforts necessary to restore stocks to healthy levels." In addition, "we would welcome an unequivocal commitment from you that you will do your utmost to meet the Article 2(2) requirements of the CFP...We urge you to strongly and openly oppose recommendations that do not follow the scientific advice of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and the CFP Article 2(2) objective."
An assessment of the effectiveness of the Baltic Sea MAP
September 24, 2019
Fit for purpose? An assessment of the effectiveness of the BSMAP is a joint analysis of the Baltic Sea Multiannual Management Plan (BSMAP) by Pew Charitable Trusts, Birdlife International, WWF, FishSec and Oceana. We conclude that the BSMAP has failed to improve fisheries management in the Baltic Sea. The state of the Baltic ecosystem and its fish stocks speaks for itself. In place since July 2016, the BSMAP, was the first management plan adopted by the EU after the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy in 2013. Having been in place for three years it is being evaluated by the European Commission and has had a stakeholder consultation. We conclude that the BSMAP has failed to improve fisheries management in the Baltic Sea and recommend that MAPs and the CFP definine a maximum level of fishing mortality in future. The state of the Baltic ecosystem, its fish stocks and the decision-making process speaks for itself.
- MAPs were introduced in the CFP to address three specific challenges: the need for longer-term (multiannual) management geared towards achieving the CFP’s objectives; the need to take into account regional and ecosystem specificities; and the desire to bring decision-making closer to the regions in question.
- The Baltic MAP was instrumentalised to serve other purposes, key among which was the facilitation of the implementation of the LO and providing decision-makers with flexibility regarding fisheries management – not only in the Baltic region, but first and foremost in other European seas.
- The flawed design of the Baltic MAP led to management decisions and fishing practices that have failed to fulfill the intent of the CFP and achieve the MSFD’s Good Environmental Status target. The intended regionalisation elements have failed to ensure the MAP delivers on the specific needs of the Baltic in a timely manner, and lastly the MAP has failed to help deliver TACs in line with MSY and scientific advice.
Joint NGO recommendations on Baltic Sea fishing opportunities for 2020
June 10, 2019
- Set TACs not exceeding scientifically advised levels based on the Maximum Sustainable Yield(MSY) approach for all stocks for which MSY-based reference points are available.
- Where MSY-based reference points are not available, to not exceed the precautionary approach catch limits advised by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).
- Set TACs not exceeding the FMSY point value specified in the Baltic Multi-Annual Plan (MAP), following the ICES MSY Advice Rule when spawning stock biomass (SBB) is below the MSY Btrigger reference point.
- Take into account the lack of implementation of the Landing Obligation (LO) when setting TACs, and ensure that TACs are respected by increasing monitoring and control of the LO.
EU Control Regulation Review – factsheets
March 15, 2019
On 6 November we have produced an updated and consolidated document: Joint NGO priorities on the revision of the EU Fisheries Control SystemThe following factsheets present the NGO priorities on the revision of the EU Control Regulation: Joint NGO priorities on the revision of the Control Regulation Remote Electronic Monitoring Sanctions Traceability Transparency IUU Small-scale fisheries The European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) These call on decision-makers to:
- Ensure full compliance with the landing obligation;
- Adapt the general control framework to the control of technical measures;
- Maintain and improve the EU legal framework for enforcement and sanctions;
- Mandate the use of cost-efficient tracking devices and the electronic reporting of catches and fishing operations for small-scale vessels;
- Improve the control of recreational fisheries;
- Improve traceability requirements;
- Improve data management and sharing;
- Ensure the monitoring and control of fleet capacity;
- Effectively control fishing in restricted and marine protected areas;
- Introduce transparency requirements;
- Minimise the amendments to the EU IUU Regulation by staying within the scope of the Commission’s proposal and by strengthening only those provisions opened for review;
- Revise the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) mandate.
Joint NGO proposal to EU Ministers regarding European eel
December 7, 2018
In a proposal to Ministers ahead of the December Council meeting several organisations have called for the full implementation of the ICES advice for the critically endangered European eel and suggested improvements regarding the fishery closure periods that were implemented last year.
Too many vessels chase too few fish – report on overcapacity in the EU
December 4, 2018
A new report from the Fisheries Secretariat shows that EU rules regarding fishing capacity are not being followed in the Baltic region. Member States have fudged their figures, obscuring which fleet segments and vessels fish on which stocks and the European Commission has not revised its guidelines in order to ensure clarity, as recommended by its own advisory committee. There is clear evidence that overcapacity has been used to influence quota negotiations at the EU Council, however, despite EU subsidy funding being based on there being no overcapacity the Commission has not taken action to follow through. Article 22 of the EU Common Fisheries Policy requires Member States to adjust the fishing capacity of its fleet to the available fishing opportunities. Overcapacity should be identified and addressed, in order to achieve a better balance with the harvested stocks, avoid overfishing, reduce incentives for discarding and other illegal practices, and avoid the socioeconomic problems caused by too many vessels competing over limited quotas. However, the system put in place to address overcapacity in 2013 fails at just about every step, according to the report. You can read our news story on the report here We have also produced national summaries for Denmark, Germany and Poland.
Summary of ICES advice on Baltic stocks for 2019
June 12, 2018
On 31 May 2018, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) Advisory Committee published their advice regarding the exploitation of the Baltic Sea fish stocks for 2019. Here we provide a summary and comment on the assessments and advice.
A table with the summary of the ICES advice can be found here.
Joint NGO letter to BALTFISH – spatial mangement of the sprat fishery
April 25, 2018
Nine organiations from across the Baltic region have written to BALTFISH requesting the adoption of the ICES recommendations with regards to sprat management.
For several years ICES have advised that "a spatial management plan is developed for the fisheries that catch sprat, with the aim to improve cod condition....[and] restrictions on sprat catches taken in the main cod area should be established."
Redirecting the sprat fishery away from subdivisions 25 and 26 would likely provide more food for the cod in these areas, where the cod stock is most dense however is marked by stunted growth. There are clear ecosystem interactions between sprat and cod which managers should take into account.
Spatial management of the fishery would also allow cluepids (herring and sprat) to grow larger in the more northern areas of the Baltic Sea where their population density is higher. In addition, a lower incidence of the M74 disease in salmon populations would be expected as a result of a reduced proportion sprat in their diet.
We recommend that BALTFISH adopts the recommendations for the spatial management of sprat as this would likely benefit all the main commercial stocks in the Baltic Sea.