Baltic eel-fishing ban likely next year

On August 29 the European Commission adopted a proposal for "fishing opportunities" in the Baltic Sea for 2018 - in other words, quotas.

In a press release in Brussels the Commission proposes to increase catches for Central Herring, Sprat and the Main Basin Salmon stocks, and to maintain the number of catches for Western Baltic Cod.

For the remaining stocks the Commission proposes reducing catches, including those for Riga Herring.

This year's proposal also includes a total ban on Baltic Eel fisheries, which are described as "not traditionally a part of the annual allowable catch proposals but a necessary step due to alarming scientific evidence and historically low levels."

The eel ban would apply to both commercial and recreational fishing. This also means that all eels caught accidentally will have to be released immediately. In addition, the Commission is planning to evaluate the Regulation on the recovery of the European eel.

Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, said: "The good news is that important quotas for Baltic herring and salmon can be increased. Responsible management measures by Member States and the fishing industry are paying off. Now we must learn from these success stories and act urgently for those stocks that are still in a worrying state, like the European eel."

The proposed total allowable catches (TAC) for herring, cod, sprat and salmon stocks are based on scientific advice from the International Council on the Exploration of the Seas and follow the Baltic multiannual management plan adopted last year by Member States and the European Parliament.

European Ministers for Fisheries will now examine the Commission proposal, with the aim of adopting it during the Fisheries Council of 9-10 October.

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