First findings from Oceana’s ongoing expedition underscore the immediate need to enhance the network of Marine Protected Areas, implement stricter fisheries management and stop harmful fishing subsidies
Today, Oceana, presented guidelines for the protection of the Baltic Sea, which include rules for sustainable fisheries management, habitats protection and ending harmful fishing subsidies. Renowned Danish and German experts joined the international marine conservation organization in warning that the future of Baltic Sea fisheries is at risk, if no stringent actions are applied to marine conservation. These declarations took place at “Baltic Sea: know better to protect more,” the seminar organised by Oceana as part of the European Maritime Day, which is currently underway in Gdansk, Poland.
Oceana’s new photos and video material collected during this spring’s two month research expedition unveils the devastating impact of pollution, overfishing and destructive fishing practices on the marine environment. The images, however, also show areas with healthy ecosystems and rich biodiversity, providing a window into what the Baltic Sea could look like if Marine Protected Areas are expanded and well protected, and if laws and regulations are fully enforced.
"The establishment of a network of 20-30% of Marine Protected Areas, including marine reserves and no-take zones, is key for the recovery of all oceans, especially for the Baltic Sea. Unsustainable fisheries, with decimation of commercial fish stocks and reduced fishing yields as consequence, must be stopped. An important step toward a sustainable exploitation of the sea is the designation of protected areas in which harmful dredging and bottom trawling must be banned", says Dr. Michael Olesen, Marine Scientist and Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen.
Studies have shown that such enhanced protection measures and more stringent management of fish resources would benefit fishermen and local communities dependent on fisheries, as well as at-risk ecosystems."If management of fish stocks is done in a responsible way we can expect to witness true recoveries of the fish stocks. For instance, profits of fishers could increase 5-fold within the next 10 years if the eastern Baltic cod stock is allowed to continue its current recovery,” says Dr. Rainer Froese, a senior scientist of marine ecology at IFM-GEOMAR in Kiel. "It is important to consider the wider consequences of overfishing in relation science, society, and nature, and not only in relation to fish and fishers."
Oceana believes that ending harmful subsidies to the industry is critical to reverse overfishing. Fishing subsidies encourage fishermen to overfish when there are hardly any fish left, resulting in depleted stocks, threatened species and ecosystems, greater investments in the fishing fleet, falling prices and economic losses. “Long term ecological sustainability and healthy fish stocks are the economic foundation of a healthy fishing industry and must be the main goal of the Common Fisheries Policy reform”, concluded Anne Schroeer, Economist and Project manager of Oceana Baltic Sea office.
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