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Illegal fishing plays a decisive role for the cod quota

If illegal fishing continues, quotas must be adjusted accordingly, the scientific advice stresses. To maintain a profitable fishing industry and favourable environmental conditions we need to make sure that the cod fishing quotas are set in compliance with the scientific advice from ICES.

The foundation Baltic Sea 2020 underlines the importance of illegal fishing when the Baltic Sea Regional Advisory Council (BS RAC) is to decide upon cod quotas.

Tomorrow the EU Commission advisory council BS RAC meets in Riga to recommend quotas for cod fishing in the Baltic Sea. This year, the members of the BS RAC have a more challenging task then perhaps ever before. They are to make assumptions on the actual levels of illegal fishing in the Baltic Sea, before setting appropriate quotas for cod fishing for 2009.

In previous years the ICES advice and the BS RAC recommendations have differed. However, this year ICES recommendation for the Eastern cod stock is dependent on the estimated extent of illegal fishing. Illegal fishing has been estimated to be as much as 30 to 40 percent of the official quotas.

The recommendation of the BS RAC is highly valued as the European Commission formulate their recommendation to the Council of Ministers, who set the final fishing quotas for the Baltic Sea. Politicians need the advice of the RAC to adopt measures which are respected by all stakeholders. Therefore the opinion of the BS RAC´s is of utmost importance.

For several years the situation for Baltic cod stocks have been negatively affected by the TACs set by the Council of Ministers, which have favoured neither sustainable fisheries, nor improving the environment of the Baltic Sea.

It is therefore with great interest we await the BS RAC recommendation, a recommendation that needs to demonstrate its ability by taking into account illegal fishing in order to truly improve the cod stock and thus the environment of the Baltic Sea.

BS RAC was established in 2006 with the purpose to improve the dialog between the European Commission, the Member States, the fishing industry and other stakeholders. The primary task for the BS RAC is to give advice to the European Commission and relevant Member States on measures for the Baltic Sea. The BS RAC member constellation consists of two thirds representatives from the fishing industry and one third other stakeholders. Eight seats are reserved for NGO´s where Coalition Clean Baltic, WWF and FISH are represented.