On November 22nd, the European Parliament will vote to adopt a multiannual plan for salmon in the Baltic Sea. This species has suffered years of mismanagement through sporadic measures such as closed seasons and annual total allowable catches (TAC) set in total disregard of scientific advice, and is now listed as declining and/or threatened in the Baltic Sea area. The text, which was adopted by the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament in July, proposes applying stricter control and enforcement measures.
“Adopting this management plan is extremely important as Baltic salmon currently remains mostly unmanaged,” stated Hanna Paulomaki, Baltic Sea Project Manager. “Even if it doesn’t go as far as we would have wanted, it will still be a positive first step towards improving the status of salmon populations in the Baltic Sea.”
The text on the table for Thursday’s plenary sitting would subject recreational fisheries, which represent an important part of salmon fishing in the Baltic Sea, to the same rules as commercial fisheries, in particular in terms of notification and reporting of salmon fishing activities and counting recreational catches against national quotas. In addition, it would support a ban on drifting long-lines to reduce catches of salmon juveniles, and would align the EU policy with the HELCOM decision to reach a smolt production level of 80% so as to achieve Maximum Sustainable Yield by 2015 for Baltic salmon river stocks.
Oceana regrets however that the text to be voted on does not establish a common minimum landing size for salmon and seatrout. This would be needed to put an end to the massive misreporting of small salmon as seatrout, which has a smaller minimum landing size than the one set for salmon. Oceana also regrets that no new amendment was introduced at this stage to ban the fishing of mixed salmon stocks in the main basin which is needed to improve the poor status of many river stocks especially in the Gulf of Finland and southern Baltic Sea. Every river population is genetically unique so maintaining and restoring every single stock has importance and value.