Baltic Sea – EU ministers increase anglers’ cod bag limit from 5 to 7 next year

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18 Oct

On Monday, the European Union Fisheries Ministers agreed on the 2019 fishing opportunities for ten Baltic Sea stocks.

“The 2020 deadline we set ourselves for achieving the sustainability of our fisheries resources is getting closer. Today's decision is another important step towards meeting this goal, whilst at the same time respecting the socioeconomic viability of our coastal communities” declared Elisabeth Köstinger of Austria, which currently holds the six-month EU rotating presidency.

Western Baltic Cod
The Council agreed to increase the recreational fisheries bag limit from five to seven fish per day per person. The EAA and the European Fishing Tackle Trade Association (EFTTA) had requested a bag limit increase as it was evident from the Commission’s proposal to the ministers that the commercial TAC (Total Allowable Catches) would be increased considerable. The Commission had suggested an increase of 31%. The ministers agreed an even bigger TAC increase of 70%.

Seven fish is less than what we had requested and would expect in comparison with a TAC increase of 31%, let alone 70%. But we are happy that the Commission and Council did increase the bag limit after all, which is expected to bring back some of the lost tourist and charter boat business in and around the Western Baltic Sea.

The closed season in February and March won’t be repeated next year. Denmark insisted on the removal of the closure.

Germany made a political statement that they would close the cod fishery 20 days next year as an emergency measure but didn’t tell which days.

Eastern Baltic Cod
There is no recreational bag limit restriction this year, and there will be none next year. Recreational fisheries do not have a significant impact on the eastern cod stock, so no need for restrictions.

The commercial TAC will be 15% less next year.

The Council established a closure period from 1 to 31 July, which is one month (August) less than this year. Small coastal commercial fisheries (less than 12m) are exempted.

Lithuania made a political statement that they would close the cod fishery also in June and August as an emergency measure.

Salmon and Trout

Salmon, commercial fisheries (not in tonnes but in numbers of salmon):
Areas 22-31: roll over (91,132)
Area 32 (Gulf of Finland): -3% (9,703)

Misreporting of salmon as trout

Very positively, some measures were adopted to address the problem of salmon catches misreported as trout as flagged by the EAA to the Fisheries Control Agency in June.

- No commercial fishing for trout beyond 4 nautical miles
- Bycatches of trout max. 3% of combined salmon-trout catches
(more stringent measures may be introduced nationally)

Joint statement by Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Estonia, Sweden, Denmark and the Commission on salmon fishing:
“Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Estonia, Sweden, Denmark and the Commission will take all necessary measures to ensure that misreporting of salmon catches and any illegal salmon fishing is eliminated from the beginning of 2019.”

Other stocks
The Council also decided for these stocks:
Plaice (+43%), sprat (+3%), Central herring (-26%), Bothnian herring (-7%), Western herring (-48%)

References, links:
● 15 October 2018, Baltic Sea: Council decides on how much can be fished in 2019
● Videos: Press conference and interviews (ministers from Denmark, Sweden, Italy, Austria)
● 31 August 2018, European Commission publishes its Baltic Sea quotas proposal for 2019
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