In the course of difficult negotiations, Latvia achieves better fishing opportunities for several stocks in the Baltic Sea for 2021 than offered initially

After long discussions, at the meeting of branch experts within the cooperation platform of the Baltic Sea States (BALTFISH) on Sunday, October 18  and at the EU Council of Agriculture and Fisheries on Monday October 19, early in the morning on Tuesday in Luxembourg, a Regulation on fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2021 was adopted.

The most difficult decisions, just as the previous year, were associated with determination of cod by-catch that would be permitted during fishing of other fish species. As mentioned previously, due to a critical condition of cod population in the Eastern part of the Baltic Sea (Eastern cod), a specialized cod fishing is not allowed since 2020. Cod is permitted to keep only if it is an incidental catch in other species (Baltic herring, sprat, plaice) or in a coastal fishery as an unavoidable by-catch.

Latvia strongly opposed to the European Commission’s (COM) proposal for unjustifiably big 70% reduction of the Eastern cod by-catch level that would be permitted in the catch of other fish species. Regardless of all these efforts, achieving a lesser reduction in quota of this species, was not succeded. Therefore, it will be necessary to live with these stringent requirements laid down for protection of the Eastern cod and restrict cod by-catch in the catch of other fish species even more than in 2020.

For other fish stocks also, COM, as compared to scientific advice on allowable fishing opportunities, proposed smaller quotas. However, in these cases, Latvia together with BALTFISH platform managed to justify and achieve setting of better fishing opportunities. This refers to sprats, next year the quota will be increased by 6% (COM offered 0%) and the - cod in the Western part of the Baltic Sea, for which the quota will be increased by 5% (COM offered minus 11%).

The best news especially for Latvia is increase of fishing opportunities in 2021 for herring in the Gulf of Riga – by 15%. Salmon catch quotas have also increased by 9%.

Only news not so favorable for Latvia is the scientifically justified reduction by 36% in fishing opportunities for herring in the Baltic Sea however, it is not the worst that could happen. Latvian share of the quota for this species is not so considerable as the major object of pelagic trawl fishing in the sea is sprats but Baltic herring is only the by-catch. This means that 6% increase in the catch of sprat next year will be able to fully compensate the decrease in amount of catch of Baltic herring.

Alise Balode, the head of Latvian delegation, ambassador, deputy of the Permanent Representative of Latvia to the European Union, after the decision adoption at the Council, emphasized: ”There is satisfaction for the efforts invested in defending our position, including the work done at the level of experts of the Ministry of Agriculture, finalizing in fairly good results to bring home. For fishermen, regarding fishing opportunities for the next year, there will be more positive than negative figures, excluding Eastern cod, where to overcome the critical condition of this species now other reasons then fishing should be found, as currently the fishing impact on the condition of this species has been brought to the minimum extent”.

Information on Latvian fishing opportunities for 2021* (as compared with 2020):
Western cod (subdivision 22-24) – 144 tons (+5%)
Eastern cod (subdivision 25-32) – 51 tons only for by-catch (-70%)
Baltic herring in the Baltic Sea – 2705 tons (-36%)
Baltic herring in the Gulf of Riga – 21 230 (+15%)
Sprat – 30817 (+6%)
Salmon – 12455 pieces (+9%)
(*) Figures indicated are provisional, official figures will be available after publication of the Regulation. 
Information prepared by:

Dagnija Muceniece, Head of the Press and Public Relations Division
telephone: 67027070; mob.: 26534104

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