Monday, 26 November 2018 09:16

Poland: Baltic Sea Advisory Council elects new chair

EM6 18 News Int EsbenThe Executive Committee of the Baltic Sea Advisory Council met on 6 November to discuss cod and herring management and a wide variety of administrative issues. Earlier that day, at an Extraordinary General Assembly, Esben Sverdrup-Jensen, chief executive officer of the Danish Pelagic Producers Organisation, was elected the Executive Committee’s new chairperson.

In response to the EU Council’s decisions regarding western cod, namely, to increase the TAC by 70% compared to 2018, which is within the range recommended by the BSAC, to lift the summer closure, and to set a bag limit at seven specimens, a number of concerns were raised by attendees. The impact of seasonal closures was debated with some voices saying they protect spawning stocks, while others felt they did not contribute substantially to sustainable exploitation. The eastern Baltic stock is not doing well and ways to assess it better will be discussed by ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) at a meeting in February 2019. Decisions by the EU Council to reduce the TAC by 15% and at the same time restrict the closed period to one month for vessels above 12 m were met with dismay. Some fishermens representatives  felt that the stock cannot be improved by solely reducing the fishing pressure as there are environmental factors which have a negative impact on the stock. Others felt that the eastern cod should be managed by other means than solely a TAC decrease and that the decision to lift the closures was not right.

A point was raised about the lack of impact the BSAC advice seemed to have on work by the Commission and the European Parliament, and that explanations were rarely forthcoming when these institutions chose not to follow the advice tendered by the BSAC. The speaker felt that If the BSAC could not show the effect of its work to its member organisations then perhaps its raison d’etre should be called into question. The time spent on procedural issues was also decried, but it was pointed out that steps to change this had already been taken with a decision by the general assembly to focus on substantive issues.

The next ExCom meeting is planned on 29th January 2019 in Copenhagen. A novelty could be to hold a “theme meeting” where invited experts come and speak about issues related to the Baltic. On 28 January 2019 a working group will discuss the Commission’s proposal for a revised EU fisheries control regulation.