BRUSSELS: At today’s Agriculture and Fisheries Council, ministers reached a political agreement regarding next year’s total allowable catches (TACs) and quotas for fish stocks in the Baltic Sea. This agreement sets the quantities each member state will be allowed to catch for each species in the Baltic Sea in 2023. The agreement is in line with the scientific advice provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and further sets out conditions for fishing vessels operating in the region.
The agreement includes:
Due to the status of the stocks, a decrease in the TAC for herring in the Gulf of Bothnia (subdivisions 30-31) of -28%, for herring in the Gulf of Riga (subdivision 28.1) of -4%, and for sprat (subdivisions 22-32) of -11%.
In view of the lack of improvement with regards to the situation of cod stocks, the Council agreed to continue to set TACs only for bycatches of Eastern Baltic cod (subdivisions 25-32) and of Western Baltic cod (subdivisions 22-24). This will also be the case for Western Baltic herring (subdivisions 22-24), and for main basin salmon (subdivisions 22-31).
As a result of the healthy status of the stocks, an increase of fishing opportunities by 32% and 25% respectively for Central Baltic herring (subdivisions 25, 27, 28.2, 29) and for plaice (subdivisions 22-32).
This agreement shows ministers’ commitment to uphold the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy, while also taking appropriate actions to tackle environmental concerns and ensure the preservation of specific fish stocks in the region. The agreement further takes into account the socio-economic situation of smaller-scale fleets, especially in light of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.
The agreement in detail
This agreement on TACs and quotas in the Baltic Sea for 2023 respects the aims of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the provisions of the multiannual management plan for the Baltic Sea. It is based on the latest scientific advice provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and takes into account the socio-economic impact in the fisheries sector. The work conducted by BALTFISH, the regional fisheries forum for the Baltic Sea, currently chaired by Lithuania, contributed to reach a political agreement at the Council.
In addition to the abovementioned TACs and national quotas, the Council agreed on specific measures, including:
That recreational fishers of salmon shall be limited to no more than one specimen of adipose fin-clipped salmon retained per fisher per day. After catching the first specimen, recreational fishers shall stop fishing salmon for the remainder of the day.
As part of the political agreement on the Baltic stocks, the Council also decided on fishing opportunities for Norway pout between the Union and the United Kingdom (subdivisions 3a, UK and EU waters of subarea 4 and UK waters of 2a), as this is a shared stock. Following consultations with the United Kingdom, delegations agreed to establish a TAC of 30 000 tonnes to apply from 1 November to 31 December 2022. Delegations further agreed to continue consultations for the setting of fishing opportunities for Norway pout for the period 1 January to 31 October 2023 in the EU-UK annual fisheries consultations for 2023, scheduled to take place in November and December 2022.
The agreement further ensures a TAC of 14 429 tonnes for southern hake (subdivisions 8c, 9 and 10) in Union waters.
Today’s decision will be formally adopted by written procedure following legal and linguistic revision and will enter into force on 1 November.
Under article 43(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the Council is responsible for fixing and allocating fishing opportunities, on the basis of a Commission proposal and without the need to consult the European Parliament or the European Economic and Social Committee.