Fisheries Council approves 2008 Baltic fishing quotas

With a majority vote the European Union’s Fisheries Council has set the Baltic herring, sprat, cod and salmon fishing quotas in the Baltic Sea for 2008 for EU member states.

While researchers recommended that the Baltic herring catch in the Gulf of Riga be reduced by 20% on this year’s figures, the European Commission proposed just a 4% reduction in the draft regulation, and this was supported by Latvia. “Estonia suggested taking the researchers’ recommendations into account and cutting the quota by more than 4%, but Latvia was against it,” explained Ain Soome, the director of the Fish Resources Department of the Ministry of the Environment.

Estonia did not support the adoption of the regulation in this form, voting against it. “The proposal made in the regulation regarding the Baltic herring quota in the Gulf of Riga was substantially higher than that recommended by researchers and will not guarantee sustainable fishing,” Soome said.

The Baltic herring stocks in the Gulf of Riga have fallen in recent years, as can be seen in the catches of Estonian fishermen, which are half the size of those they were making four to five years ago. “Estonia is worried about the amount of trawler fishing in the Gulf of Riga,” Soome said. “Baltic herring accounts for around 80 to 90% of coastal fishermen’s income. If the stocks fall away because of overfishing, it will cause them big social and financial problems. Trawlers should head out to the open sea to fish; fishermen using fixed nets don’t have that option.”

The Baltic Sea fishing regulation was adopted as a result of a simple majority vote. The catch volumes for most of the species covered by the EU regulation were reduced, with the quotas as follows:
Baltic herring in the Gulf of Riga – 36,094 tons (reduction of 4%); Estonian quota 17,317 tons;
Baltic herring in the Baltic Sea (open sea) – 152,630 tons (+ 15%); Estonian quota 17,147 tons;
Sprats – 454,492 tons (as per 2007 level); Estonian quota 52,060 tons;
Cod in the eastern Baltic – 38,765 tons (- 5%); Estonian quota 867 tons;
Cod in the western Baltic – 19,221 tons (- 28%); Estonian quota 185 tons;
Salmon in the Gulf of Finland – 15,419 fish (as per 2007 level); Estonian quota 1581 fish;
Salmon in the Baltic Sea (open sea) – 364,392 fish (- 15%); Estonian quota 7674 tons.

Source: Estonian Ministry of the Environment

Estonia has smallest national debt and third largest budget surplus in European Union

Yesterday saw the release by Eurostat of more detailed data on government sector debt and budget deficits in European Union member states in 2006. According to Eurostat, Estonia’s budget surplus is the third largest in the union after Denmark and Finland. The average government sector budget deficit among the 27 member states was 1.6 percent of GDP, while the average debt was 61.4 percent of GDP. The smallest state debt in 2006 was in Estonia.A government sector surplus of between 0.4 and 4.6 percent of GDP could be found in ten European Union member states. Estonia’s was 3.6 percent, making it the third largest after Denmark (4.6 percent) and Finland (3.8 percent). The largest budget deficit was in Hungary, at 9.2% of GDP. Also failing to fulfil the Maastricht criterion in terms of budget balance (with the deficit exceeding 3 percent of GDP) were Italy (-4.4 percent), Portugal (-3.9 percent), Poland (-3.8 percent) and Slovakia (-3.7 percent). The EU’s average budget deficit decreased in 2006 from 2005 by 0.8 percentage points, with Estonia’s surplus growing year-on-year by 1.7 percentage points.

In comparison with previous years, Estonia’s government sector surplus has increased considerably both in absolute terms and as a percentage of GDP – in 2004 and 2005 the surplus was 1.8 and 1.9 percent of GDP, respectively. For the first time, all of the levels of the government sector – the central government, social insurance funds and local governments – were in surplus in 2006, mostly due to more favourable macro-economic developments than were expected.

Estonia’s government sector debt fell between 2005 and 2006 from 4.4 to 4.0 percent and was once again one of the lowest in the EU. Luxembourg (6.6 percent of GDP), Latvia (10.6 percent) and Romania (12.4 percent) also had low debt. According to the Maastricht criterion, debt cannot exceed 60 percent of GDP. Failing in this respect were ten countries, with the largest debt being in Italy (106.8 percent of GDP), Greece (95.3 percent) and Belgium (88.2 percent). The EU’s average debt decreased by 1.3 percentage points over the year to 61.4 percent of GDP.

The Statistical Office has released more detailed information about the Estonian government sector budget surplus and debt in its database at http://www.stat.ee.

The Eurostat press release can be viewed at http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/.
Source: Enterprise Estonia

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