EAPO responds to the Baltic Sea Working Group advice on 2023 fishing opportunities
The European Association of Fish Producers Organisation (EAPO) has responded to the Baltic Sea Working Group advice on 2023 fishing opportunities.
The EAPO, in a letter to the European Commission, outlined reasons why they were disappointed that total allowable catch (TAC) limits, especially for some pelagic species, was set well below the recommendations as set out by the ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Seas).
The EAPO and the Commission differed greatly over the limit that should be set with the EAPO writing:
“The recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia has put European fishers in a crisis, high fuel prices make it hard for fishing businesses to be profitable. EAPO would like the council to consider this when setting TAC for stocks that have an upper FMSY range. For such extraordinary circumstances, and in the need to maintain the food supply chain based on the own natural resources, amending the existing UE legislation to create possibility of setting the TAC using the upper range of FMSY, would improve the socioeconomic situation of European Fisheries and have a positive impact on European Food Security. This extraordinary measure would be addressed for the stocks when scientific evidence on negative interspecific interactions exists and when the stock is in a good state.”
They claim the situation in the Baltic is dominated by an imbalance in the ecosystem.
“Water temperatures are historically high, and the eutrophication problems withstand,” writes the EAPO. “These factors favour a high sprat population and form the ecosystem in the Baltic through a dominance of clupeids as well as sticklebacks. The high levels of sprat in turn cause negative effects for other species, through for example egg predation on cod, and competition for food resources with herring. EAPO firmly believe that according to the ecosystem-based management a reduction of the sprat biomass would most probably give positive effects for cod and herring populations and potentially for a number of other species as well (salmon, pike, perch and others).”
The six-page letter lays out the EAPO’s concerns with the quotas set and the ICES advice for cod, plaice, herring, sprat and salmon.
In their conclusion the EAPO says:
“On a finishing note, the Baltic Sea is facing a difficult situation caused by increasingly deteriorating ecosystems due to the increasing anthropogenic pollutions. To add insult to injury, the most important stocks are trophically related in a manner that fishing one impacts the other, either by allowing for its recovery, because one is a bycatch of the other or because closing fishing in that period to protect one stock drastically impacts the profitability of another fishery. Setting TACs in the Baltic Sea must be done by taking these into account and by applying an ecosystem-based approach, to preserve Fisheries as much as fishes. We must work to better the tools at our disposal, such as the existing Multiannual Plans, as much as use the new tools(New fishing gear allowing for less bycatch of Cod) and research available (Negative interspecific interactions between Sprat and Cod) to make the best decision with the best available science.”