Policy talks in Tallinn provide opportunity to show true commitment to ending discards and restore the depleted Baltic Sea.
This week, the future of Baltic Sea fish stocks is being discussed at the Baltfish and HELCOM meetings in Tallinn, Estonia. Representatives and stakeholders from the region are gathered to discuss the implementation of a discard ban, multi-species management and to review the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP), an ambitious plan they agreed upon in 2007 with the aim to restore the badly depleted status of the Baltic Sea. Oceana is disappointed that many countries are so far showing a lack of commitment and watering down the already agreed upon measures.
“The text at the upcoming Ministerial Declaration should be clear and include set targets and goals. It must not be watered down with ambiguous and general wording, allowing for loopholes and the mismanagement of fish stocks in the Baltic Sea”, says Hanna Paulomäki, Oceana Baltic Sea project manager.
Since the signing of the BSAP in 2007, many of the agreed upon deadlines have been ignored and postponed. This week’s review of the plan will be part of the declaration text for the upcoming Ministerial Meeting in October, 2013. Oceana is calling on Environmental Ministers to ensure that the fisheries goals of the BSAP are retained and a plan to implement them is put into place without further delay. Without such efforts, the plan risks becoming nothing but an ambitious, but toothless, paper product.
Furthermore, Oceana has taken a joint stance with several other influential environmental groups in the discussions around a discard ban and the upcoming multi species management plans in the Baltic Sea.
“The ultimate aim must be to minimize unwanted catches instead of just stopping to dump fish. This can be achieved through providing incentives to solve the problem at sea, by improving selectivity of fishing gears and changing fishing behaviour,” added Paulomäki.
With regards to the upcoming multi species management plan, the EU Commission and Baltic Member States must ensure that ecosystem health and long-term economic profitability are prioritized over maximizing catch volume, and that the plan is in line with the objectives in the Common Fisheries Policy, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the HELCOM BSAP.