Scientific advice indicates that the number of stocks managed at Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) level in the Baltic Sea might be increasing. The cuts in TACs adopted in previous years proved effective and the number of stocks being fished at MSY level could go from three to six in 2013, if the proposed Total Allowable Catches (TACs) are adopted.
The Commission proposes higher TACs for sprat, for the stocks of Central and Western herring and for plaice. It also reduces the TACs of the remaining pelagic stocks to respond to the natural fluctuations of stocks and ensure MSY levels. The number of days at sea for fishing vessels remain the same as in previous years.
The overall aim of the Commission's proposal is to make fisheries in the Baltic Sea environmentally and economically sustainable by following scientific advice. This comes from the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee on Fisheries (STECF) and from International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES). The Baltic Sea Regional Advisory Council (BSRAC) was equally consulted on this proposal in May.
The proposal will be discussed byt the Member States' Ministers at the October Fisheries Council.
The Commission proposes to decrease the TAC for Eastern Baltic cod by 9% (to 61 565 tonnes) and the TAC for western Baltic cod by 2% (to 20 800 tonnes). These cuts are due to more precise scientific advice that became available this year.
For the second year in a row, the Commission proposes to increase the TAC for Western herring – by 23% for 2013 (to 25 800 tonnes). After the cuts of 2011 and 2012, the TAC for Central herring can now be increased by 9% (to 85 155), as this stock will be at MSY level in 2013. A decrease by 10% is proposed for stocks which have not yet sufficiently recovered, i.e. the Gulf of Riga herring, and for stocks which are within MSY, i.e. the Gulf of Bothnia herring (TAC decreased by 7%)
Last year the Commission proposed to reduce the TAC for salmon significantly, in order to bring salmon populations to sustainable levels (Known as MSY = maximum sustainable yield). The TAC proposed for next year is similar to the one adopted last year, which corresponds to a 11% cut (to 108 762 pieces). This is consistent with scientific advice and is based on the harvest control rule proposed in the Baltic salmon management plan, which will hopefully help improve the status of the stock. As the predicament of Gulf of Finland salmon does not seem to have changed since last year, the Commission proposed to adopt the same TAC as last year.
The Commission proposes to increase the TAC for sprat by 11%, to 249 978 tonnes.
Scientists have now developed a methodology to estimate the size of the plaice stock, for which limited data is available. Based on this methodology, the proposed TAC for plaice represents an increase by 18%, to 3 409 tonnes.