BalticSea2020 on next year's cod quotas for the Baltic Sea

Author: BalticSea2020
Year published: 2017

In August, the EU Commission presented its proposal for fishing quotas in the Baltic Sea, where they find that the cod stock is in a very critical state and therefore recommend scientific advice is being followed. The Commission notes that the western stock is under safe biological limits, and for the eastern stock, it wants to reduce the quota by another 28%, because of the lack of scientific data.

Today, Baltic Sea almost completely lacks larger cod and the fish is too weak to be able to follow the food and grow larger. There is a direct threat to the Baltic ecosystem, where cod plays a very important role. Now, very drastic measures are needed to save the Baltic cod.

Next week, October 9-10, 2017, EU Fisheries Ministers meet to negotiate the Baltic fishing quoatas for 2018. The negotiations are based on scientific advice and the EU Commission's proposals, but for several years, the ministers has opposed the recommendations and allocated larger quotas than is sustainable in the long run. For the cod, we now see the consequences of these decisions - a cod stock in crisis.

Minister for Rural Affairs Sven-Erik Bucht represents Sweden in the Council of Ministers. Today (6 October 2017), the the Swedish Parliament will give Bucht a mandate for next week's negotiations. Now it is more important than ever that the Swedish Parliament gives Bucht a tough and clear position to put the Baltic Sea environment and the cod stock before other interests when negotiating with its EU colleagues. It is time to show that Sweden stands for a sustainable fisheries policy.

The Baltic Sea cod is genetically unique and in a very critical situation. Therefore, the decision on fishing quota will be crucial for its future. A responsible fisheries policy is needed where quotas are not set above the level that is biologically sustainable. To put fish quotas in line with what science recommends in this critical situation, is the least Sweden can do. The situation is so serious that we should discuss the possibility of completely stopping the trawl fishery to allow the stock to recover. This in turn would prevent the risk of extinguish a genetically unique species through our destructive fishing patterns.