Luxembourg (dpa) – fishermen are no longer allowed to catch cod in the western Baltic Sea 2022 and herring only in exceptional cases.
The EU countries agreed on Tuesday in view of threatened stocks after more than 24 hours of negotiation that only bycatch of just under 490 tons of cod is possible should and only 788 tons of herring may be fished, according to a communication from EU countries. Targeted herring fishing with trawls is prohibited.
This year, 1600 tonnes of western herring and 4000 tonnes of western cod may still be caught across the EU. The background to the new rules are worrying developments in many fish stocks in the Baltic Sea.
In a communication, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture indicated that it did not agree to the decision. Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner (CDU) had unsuccessfully demanded that a decision on western herring should be made in December because this stock migrates to more northerly waters and other countries fish it as well.
Negotiations with these countries are for December scheduled. Klöckner fears that a strict EU decision in favor of the Baltic Sea could lead other countries to high catches in other seas. The director of the Thünen Institute, Christopher Zimmermann, also expects this. The consequence will be that the herring stock will not have a chance to recover.
The German Fisheries Association, nature conservationists and the ministry are largely in agreement on the effects on German Baltic Sea fisheries: said the federal managing director of the German environmental aid (DUH), Sascha Müller-Kraenner.
“The bottom line is that for the German fishery, one has to be very clear, a disaster,” said fisheries association spokesman Claus Ubl of the German Press Agency. Cod and herring are the “bread fish”. “And if these are shortened to such an extent that you can no longer fish them specifically, then everyone can calculate that hardly any fisherman can survive there,” said Ubl. And «if I don’t catch any fish, I can no longer hold structures such as cold stores, ice machines and the like – and once they are gone, they are gone.» The fact that the quotas for plaice and sprat have been raised will help some fishermen to survive.
Klöckner spoke of “the most massive cuts” for the fishery. She announced that she would campaign for financial support for the fishery. The federal government wants to sound out with the federal states whether further “scrapping measures” are necessary.
Environmental protection organizations reacted with mixed feelings to the result: to prevent the Baltic Sea, ”said BUND chairman Olaf Bandt. But a step has been taken in the right direction. In addition to excessive catches in recent years, climate change also has a negative impact on population development, emphasized the MSC, an organization that advocates sustainable fishing.
The EU countries are following the suggestion for herring the EU Commission, for western cod the agreement exceeds the proposal of the Brussels authority by around 165 tons. For Germany this means that 435 tons of western herring and 104 tons of western cod may be caught.
The DUH criticizes that the decision falls short of the Commission’s proposals. Numerous environmental protection organizations have been criticizing excessive catches for years. Greenpeace marine biologist Thilo Maack spoke of the fact that the “emergency stop” that has now been decided will come too late and that the Baltic Sea fisheries will fall into the abyss with sight, because the EU countries have ignored the warnings from science and environmentalists for years.
The agreement on herring also includes an exemption for fishing boats under twelve meters that are allowed to continue to fish specifically for herring with “passive fishing gear”, such as set nets, as a spokeswoman for the Federal Ministry of Agriculture confirmed.
But there are not only restrictions on professional fishermen, hobby anglers are also affected: outside the closed season, they are only allowed to catch one cod and one salmon per person per day. “The fishing ban should have also applied to angling,” said Maack. It is difficult to check whether everyone is sticking to the limit.