Today, the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) delivered its advice for 2015 catches in the Baltic Sea, including the largest cuts in total allowable catches for cod in years. This move comes after ICES scientists reported a particularly worrying development for eastern Baltic cod: While over the past few years, the stock has reportedly shown a strong recovery from an almost depleted state, but this year’s analysis indicates that it is in very poor condition, and consists mainly of unusually small, slow growing individuals. Oceana is deeply concerned about this latest news and urges decision makers to listen carefully to these scientific recommendations.
“The worrying information about cod is yet another sign of the poor state of the Baltic Sea. It is past time for Baltic Sea and EU decision makers to wake up and start taking action to save the marine environment”, says Hanna Paulomäki, Oceana’s Baltic Sea project manager.
The Baltic Sea ecosystem consists of relatively few species, and cod, as one of its top predators, plays a vital role in maintaining balance. In addition to cuts in catches, today’s announcement included a recommendation that fisheries for sprat and herring (the main source of food for cod) be moved away from cod feeding grounds. When Fisheries Ministers gather in October to set fishing opportunities it is vital that they heed ICES scientists advice.
“Scientists are currently unable to determine the exact cause of the poor state of Baltic Sea cod, so it is crucial that decision makers use precaution when setting catch limits” says Magnus Eckeskog, Oceana’s Baltic Sea policy advisor.