Members of the Fisheries Committee have approved on Tuesday the first multiannual plan to manage fishing since the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has come into force in 2014. The plan concerns cod, sprat and herring in the Baltic Sea. It brings more predictability for fishermen through longer-term management rather than year-on-year planning.

In addition, the multiannual approach and the fact that these three interacting species will now be managed through a single plan will make fishing in the Baltic more sustainable.

"The plan is a pioneer proposition in the very sensitive ecosystem of the Baltic Sea. It may indeed be regarded as a 'work in progress' to be adapted when scientists develop more advanced multispecies approaches. In any case, the multispecies approach is much more effective than managing a single species. The plan should provide for a balanced, sustainable exploitation of the stocks concerned and the stability of fishing opportunities – and thereby of the livelihoods of fishermen", said rapporteur Jarosław Wałęsa (EPP, PL), whose draft report was adopted with 20 votes in favour, 1 against and 2 abstentions.

Sustainable fishing: Key objectives of reformed CFP to be respected

MEPs have made sure that the stocks concerned must be restored and maintained "above" biomass levels that can produce the maximum sustainable yield (MSY), thus reflecting the language of the CFP regulation. MSY means catching no more than a given stock can reproduce in a given year, a key concept made mandatory with the newly reformed CFP.

The plan also contains provisions to implement other vital elements of the new CFP, such as the landing obligation (discard ban) and regionalisation (see the background note on the new CFP).


A management plan for the Baltic Sea cod stocks has been in place since 2008, but stocks of herring and sprat are not yet covered. The present plan replaces the existing one.

The concerned stocks are inter-dependent. For example, cod are predating on sprat, and to a lesser extent, herring, and herring and sprat sometimes feed on the eggs of cod. The management of fisheries for cod can have an impact on fishing opportunities for sprat and herring, and vice versa.

Multiannual stock management plans seek to keep the volume of stocks within safe biological limits. These plans lay down maximum catches and a range of technical measures, taking due account of the characteristics of each stock and the fisheries in which it is found (species targeted, gear used, status of target stocks) and the economic impact the measures will have on the fisheries concerned.

Next steps

The draft report will be submitted to a plenary vote during the April II plenary session, after which Parliament and Council negotiators will start talks, assisted by the Commission, with the aim to reach a second reading agreement.


In the chair: Linnéa Engström (Greens/EFA, SE)

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