A new proposal on the future of fishing in the western Baltic Sea claims Low-impact fishery catches fewer cod for higher prices
The Low Impact Fishers of Europe (LIFE), along with other environmentally concerned NGOs and the FSK-PO have written a proposal on the future of fishing in the Baltic Sea.
The proposal is that the Western Baltic Sea should be fished using low impact fishing gear.
The quotas for cod in the western Baltic Sea have been reduced for a number of years. In 2007, the year in which individual transferable quotas were introduced for the demersal fishery, the quota on cod in the western Baltic Sea stood at 26,700 tonnes.
For 2021, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, ICES, recommends a quota of 4635 tonnes; a fifth of what the quota was just 13 years ago.
The prevailing conditions in the Baltic Sea mean that we cannot expect the same quantity of cod in the area as before. Cod is one of the most important species in the western Baltic area. It is important for the fishery sector, but also for the ecosystem, in which cod is a keystone species. Due to the introduction of individual transferable quotas and the now reduced cod quotas, there is a falling employment level in the fishing industry, with consequences for the local areas in which the fishery sector is located.
The smaller the total quota, the more vital it becomes that it is fished appropriately – both in terms of landing value and number of individuals, as well as in terms of the population’s recovery.
It is important that the fishery is conducted in a way which ensures the highest value for the quota while simultaneously ensuring sustainable stocks. With a falling cod stock, it is therefore important that fishing targets the fish with the highest value, and that the fishery sector does not target the very large fish which contribute the most to the recovery of the population.
This is due to the fact that larger and older cod produce more, and higher quality, eggs than young cod.
The low-impact fishing with set nets barely catches any fish under the minimum size, and selectively fishes for medium-sized cod, which provide the highest value, and which, population-wise, are the most suitable to target. The rest of the fishery catches, to a much higher degree, small cod under 1 kg, with a considerably lower landing price.
Because the low-impact fishery sector catches medium-sized fish rather than small fish, they also catch fewer fish on the quota.
Low-impact fishery can simultaneously contribute to solving the climate crisis, as low impact fishery consumes a lower amount of energy per landed tonne of fish compared to other fishery methods for the same species.
Furthermore, low-impact fishery has a lower impact on the seabed. Through promoting low-impact fishery, it is possible to gain more value from the lower cod quota and decrease the pressure on the cod population and the marine environment, while contributing to reaching climate goals.
You can read the full proposal by clicking here.