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.