Deciding the future of Baltic cod fisheries
"At risk is nothing less than the commercial collapse of the Baltic Cod fishery," says Lasse Gustavsson, Director of WWF's Baltic Ecoregion Programme.
"We are urging EU Member States to base their management decisions on scientific advice and to prioritize the recovery of cod stocks in order to secure the sustainability of this important fishery."
A new WWF report released this week — A Sustainable Future for Baltic Cod and Cod Fisheries — highlights the urgency of the problems facing the cod and cod fisheries in the Baltic region, and identifies key recommendations for policy makers.
“The Baltic Sea cod stocks are overexploited," Gustavsson adds. "We strongly recommend an immediate closure of all cod fisheries in the eastern Baltic until a recovery plan is in place and until the eastern stock is no longer threatened with collapse."
A recovery plan, he says, must include a thorough reform of the control and enforcement structures to ensure compliance and reliable data for stock assessments – something that is noticeably absent from the plan proposed by the EC.
Ignoring scientific advice, which clearly calls for a zero catch for the eastern cod stock for 2007, the EC proposal is instead proposing quota of almost 40,000 tonnes in the eastern Baltic Sea. If adopted, this proposal will lead to the further depletion of the stock as a result of overcapacity, illegal fishing, misreporting and discards.
“Mismanagement of the stocks and non-compliance to existing regulations are the major reasons the situation today is so critical," Gustavsson says.
"EU Member States must take responsibility for correcting these problems by making a decision that will secure the recovery of cod. There are serious lessons to be learnt from the collapse of the cod stocks in Canada in 1992 where attempts for recovery were left until it was too late. The Baltic Sea should be saved from that path.”
WWF continues to advocate for policies that adhere to an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management in order to restore balance in the ecosystem so it can provide the basis for strong and stable harvests.
For further information:
Lasse Gustavsson, Director
WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme
Tel: +46 70 105 30 55
Espen Nordberg, Marine and Fisheries Policy Officer
Tel: +45 26 25 70 14