Campaign group Our Fish has called on Baltic Sea fisheries ministers to take urgent action to protect the region’s cod fisheries by following scientific advice for 2018 quotas, according to a press release.
Ministers should adopt the “most cautious scientific advice” in order to aid recovery of cod stocks in the Baltic Sea which are still “severely overfished”, said Our Fish, referring to scientific advice published May 31 by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).
The group also said ministers should allow fishers to use more selective fishing gear and ban bottom trawling.
“Western Baltic cod has been so intensively overfished, teetering on the brink of collapse for ten years, that even after a strong 2016 year class, stocks are still at the second lowest biomass levels since the early 1980s, and outside of safe limits for repopulating to a healthy state,” said Our Fish campaign manager Rebecca Hubbard.
“To avoid collapse of the Western and Eastern Baltic cod stocks and secure future generations of fish, Baltic Sea fisheries ministers must not only heed this year’s catch advice from ICES, but also allow fishers to develop more selective fishing gears and remove the wasteful forms of bottom trawling currently in use, which are threatening both our fish stocks and our coastal fishers.”
The group noted that over the past thirty years cod catches have fallen from a peak of 400,000 metric tons in 1984 to just under 57,000t in 1992. This year ICES recommends a catch just over 22,000t, “amounting to one eighteenth of its former peak”.
The group said Danish and German ministers have repeatedly ignored ICES recommendations. Our Fish also accused the EU’s Agrifish Council meetings, which decide EU cod quotas, of “lacking transparency and accountability”.
“Last year four out of ten fish stocks were set above scientific advice, with governments knowingly perpetuating overfishing and the decline in social and economic values,” said Hubbard.