13. September 2005

EU-Russia agreement on cod-fishing 230% over scientific advice

2005-09-09 CCB Press-release on the outcome of the 31st Session of the International Baltic Sea Fishery Commission (IBSFC), 5-7 September 2005, Visby, Sweden

EU and Russia agreed on fishing quota 2006 for the threatened eastern cod stock, at a level 230 % higher than the scientific advice. Overexploited Baltic cod stocks are still at risk for the long-term survival.
Now the Baltic cod stocks management for 2006 are in the hands of EU Ministers of Fisheries that have a chance to agree on a more precautionary management and lower the quota for Baltic cod in the autumn.
2/3 of all wild Baltic salmon river populations are threatened, but IBSFC’s recommendations still allow for extensive catches of the salmon in mixed open-sea fisheries.

Eastern cod stock (east of Bornholm)
In the last session in the history of the IBSFC (the European Community and the four accession countries have declared their withdrawal from the Convention on Fishing and Conservation of Living Resources in the Baltic Sea and the Belts, also called Gdansk Convention) EU and Russian delegations agreed on a fishing quota of 49 220 t for the threatened eastern cod stock for next year, which is 230 % higher than the scientific advice from International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (14 900 t for 2006). The ICES advice for quota corresponds to a fishing mortality that could ensure a spawning stock biomass (SSB) of minimum 160 000 t in 2007. If the quota is higher than 15 000 ton for 2006, it is not consistent with the precautionary approach.
The agreement also means that the 2006 fishing quota for eastern cod stock is 15 % higher than in this year (42 800 t for 2005).
The political discussions on cod fisheries have not resulted in any major reduction of the fishing effort and cod fishing quotas. The concept of "business as usual" will go on.
We wonder how long this policy of Baltic Sea governments and EC can continue. The Baltic cod stocks are still at risk for long-term survival, and we are coming closer and closer to a situation when the cod stocks may collapse, which will heavily affect the whole Baltic Sea ecosystem. A collapse of the cod stock would also destroy the fishing industry. A change for a responsible Baltic cod fisheries cannot wait. The EU Ministers of Fisheries still have a chance to agree on a more precautionary management and lower quota for Baltic cod in autumn.

Baltic salmon management
Many Baltic wild salmon river populations are threatened. Wild fish, predestined to return to their home rivers, are caught in a mixed (reared and wild) salmon fishery in the open sea. Salmon fishery rules must be changed to secure a safe return of spawners to all wild rivers.
The agreed catch levels for salmon in the Baltic (without Gulf of Finland) for 2006 are 460 000 fish and 17 000 fish for the Gulf of Finland (same level for both areas as in 2005).
The high ongoing salmon exploitation rate, will threaten the survival of many weak salmon populations, especially in the Gulf of Finland where the situation of the wild salmon is extremely serious.

For more information contact:
Mr Gunnar Noren, CCB International secretariat, phone +46-18-71 11 70, mobile +46-70-560 53 52
Mr Piotr Gruszka, Green Federation GAJA, Szczecin, Poland, mobile +48 601 77 4543