Currently, the EU is in the final stages of deciding on a new multiannual management plan for the Baltic Sea, which will include cod, herring and sprat - a so-called multi-species plan.

– A multi-species management for the Baltic Sea fisheries is a big step in the right direction. However, the current proposal does not fully comply with the ecosystem approach in the Common Fisheries Policy, says Gustaf Almqvist, researcher at the scientific think-tank Baltic Eye at Stockholm University’s Baltic Sea Centre.

A revision is needed

The Parliament is expected to adopt the multiannual plan in April. Then the Council of Ministers will have their say. This means that the Baltic may very well have a new management plan in place this summer.

– It’s important that this plan is only regarded as a first step towards a sustainable ecosystem-based management. The discussions on what to include in a revised plan must be intiated immediately, says Gustaf Almqvist.

Cod has a key role

In a newly released policy brief Baltic Eye recommends a number of improvements to the proposed plan, based on a scientific and ecosystem-based point of view.

One of the most important improvements concern the management of the cod stocks. Since the cod play a key role in the Baltic Sea, the cod recovery must be given top priority in the new multiannual plan.

The other Baltic Eye recommendations adress such aspects as the need for a more specified definition of the goal of MSY (maxumim sustainable yield), a reference to individual sizes and stronger considerations to environmental changes.