Fish harvesting quotas in Gulf of Riga to drop next year
The Agriculture and Fisheries Council of the EU (AGRIFISH) agreed on fishing quotas for 2017 which for Estonia will mean bigger Baltic herring and sprat quotas in the open waters of the Baltic Sea but smaller quotas for Baltic herring in the Gulf of Riga as well as for cod and salmon.
The agreement on sprat and Baltic herring in the open part of the Baltic Sea came easily, but opinions of the countries lining the sea diverged on cod and salmon harvesting and some bargaining had to be done, explained Estonian Minister of the Environment Marko Pomerants.
Distributin of the salmon quota for the Gulf of Finland was especially difficult as Finland wanted to reduce the quota by 32 percent while Estonia sought a reduction of no more than 15 percent. In the end, a compromised was reached to cut the quota by 20 percent.
Regarding the salmon quota for the open part of the sea, Estonia agreed with most Baltic Sea countries' proposal to leave it unchanged, meaning that Estonian fishermen will be allowed to catch 2,020 units of salmon there in 2017; the quota for the Gulf of Finland was set at 1,075 units.
The European Commission proposed to raise the sprat harvesting quota by 40 percent, but Estonia called for a smaller hike so that the quota would not have to be reduced again next year. The ceiling on sprat catches was increased by 29 percent, which means that Estonia will be able to harvest up to 29,896 tons of sprat next year.
Estonia agreed to the EU executive's proposal to increase the harvesting of Baltic herring in the open part of the Baltic Sea by seven percent from this year, which will mean a quota of 21,473 tons of herring for Estonian fishermen.
The Commission wanted to slash the Baltic herring quota for the Gulf of Riga by 21 percent, but the Baltic Sea countries' cooperation forum BALTFISH, which includes Estonia, did not support this proposal as Baltic herring stocks there have been in good condition since the 1990s. It was eventually agreed to cut the quota by 11 percent, leaving Estonia with a maximum catch of 14,350 tons.
The cod quota for the Baltic Sea is divided by eastern and western stock. The European Commission proposed to reduce the quotas by 40 and 90 percent, respectively. Estonia was not in favor of such a drastic cut for the eastern stock, but found the slashing of the quota for the western stock understandable given the latter's poor state. Estonian fishermen will be allowed to harvest 691 tons from the eastern stock and 54 tons from the western stock in 2017.