Tensions rising ahead of Baltic vote in Council

“Do not base your decision on false advice” – that is the call from environment campaigners to fisheries ministers ahead of their agreement on a Baltic Sea fisheries plan on Monday 20 April. Some member states seek to delay parts of the plan.

The proposal for Baltic Sea fishing limits currently on the table is a breach of the binding objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), campaigners say.

In a letter to fisheries ministers, a coalition of environmental NGOs point out that EU law requires fish quotas to stay below the level called “F-MSY” and warn ministers not to let quotas exceed that level.

Commission has asked for advice on overfishing
The letter alerts ministers to the way that advice from the scientific organisation ICES has been handled by the European Commission. Fish quotas (or fishing mortality, “F”, as it is referred to in the letter) must be set below F-MSY levels. “Yet, the Commission requested that ICES provide values for fishing mortality around F-MSY, and these values were subsequently integrated into the Commission’s proposal”, according to the letter.

The fisheries committee in the European Parliament has already voted on the Baltic Sea management plan, saying that quotas must stay below F-MSY. The environmental organisations write that they “are urging member states to demonstrate the same level of ambition to implement the reformed CFP.”

Deadlock ahead?
A Council document, released Thursday, indicated that some member states want to postpone the decision on ranges for fishing quotas. They want to wait for the outcome of a court case regarding the legal basis for fisheries management plans. There is a long-standing conflict between the Council and the European Parliament, where Council wants Parliament to have no say over ranges for fishing quotas (background here, here or here).

Follow the Council meeting on Monday
Ministers will hold a public discussion on the Baltic management plan at around 10:30 on Monday, according to the indicative programme for the Council meeting. The public discussion will be live streamed at video.consilium.europa.eu.

More background
– The NGO letter to the ministers in BE, DE, DK, ES, FI, FR, HR, LI, NL, PL, PT, SL, UK.
– A comparison of the scientific advice and the positions of Council, Parliament and Commission can be found here: On Monday, Council may endorse overfishing in the Baltic Sea

Axel Naver

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