EFTTA and EAA pressure halts ‘drastic’ cut to Baltic cod bag limit
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Pressure from recreational fishing bodies in Europe has halted a ‘drastic’ cut to next year’s cod bag limit for the Western Baltic region.
National angling organisations, the European Anglers Alliance (EAA) and EFTTA argued strongly that a European Commission-recommended reduction of the seven cod per day bag limit to two next year would have a dramatic impact on the recreational fishing sector in the region.
Following these requests, the European Council of Ministers overturned the Commission’s proposal and agreed upon a five cod limit, reduced to two during the February and March spawning period.
“The decision by EU ministers is good news for the recreational fishing industry,” said Jan Kappel, EFTTA’s Public Affairs Officer and Secretary General of the EAA. “Cod is one of the most sought after species in the Western part of the Baltic Sea. A lot of economies and jobs depend on continued good cod fishing and access to fishing for the species.
“Anglers have suffered from commercial overfishing for cod in the region for many years and that has to some extent resulted in the trouble the stocks are in today, together with unfavourable environmental conditions.
“Anglers are willing to help stock recovery, but in a fair and equitable way. Historic catch data clearly shows that anglers did not overfish the stock. It is worth noting that for a number of years discards from the commercial fisheries alone exceeded the total recreational catches.”
While the recreational fishing industry is hailing the cod-quota rethink, it is asking for a separate management scheme for the Öresund region, a narrow strait between Sweden and Denmark, and a unique area that has seen a trawling ban in place since 1932.
This has allowed it to develop very much like a Marine Protected Area (MPA), with low pressure on fish stocks and less damage to the habitat compared to adjacent waters.
Kappel said: “This has allowed positive economic benefits for the region and a number of sectors related to recreational fisheries, including tourism.
“The economic value of sea angling in the Öresund has been estimated to be more than €50m annually. A higher or no bag limit would be risk-free in this area. Instead of a bag limit, the Swedish and Danish angling organisations have called for an increase in the minimum landing size, which at present is only 35cm.”