The EU Commission announced emergency measures to save the eastern Baltic cod stock from impending collapse Tuesday, banning commercial fishing for cod in most of the Baltic Sea till end 2019.
"The impact of this cod stock collapsing would be catastrophic for the livelihoods of many fishermen and coastal communities all around the Baltic Sea," said the Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella: We must urgently act to rebuild the stock – in the interest of fish and fishermen alike. That means responding rapidly to an immediate threat now, through the emergency measures the Commission is taking. But it also means managing the stock – and the habitat it lives in – properly in the long term."
The ban will come into force immediately and last until 31 December 2019. It will cover all fishing vessels and apply in all those areas of the Baltic Sea where the largest part of the stock is present (i.e. subdivisions 24-26), except for some specific targeted derogations. It follows measures that have already been taken by some Member States.
Given that these measures do not ensure a uniform approach in all areas where the eastern Baltic cod stock is found, and that not all Member States intend to adopt national measures, the Commission has decided that further emergency action is warranted.
While this fishing ban is an essential immediate step to help protect this vulnerable stock, the Commission and Member States will revisit the need for longer-term action later in the year, when Ministers meet to decide on next year's fishing opportunities. Scientists also warn of many factors besides fishing that threaten the stock and that need to be addressed separately, including a lack of salinity, too high water temperatures and too little oxygen, as well as parasite infestation.