European Union herring quotas, while they will still be reduced for 2024, will not be as downsized for Estonia's waters to the extent initially feared, following talks in Luxembourg.
EU ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Tuesday decided that next year's fishing quota cuts in the Baltic Sea will less severe than the European Commission originally proposed.
The herring quota for the open Baltic will be cut by 43 percent, instead of the planned 60 percent, for instance.
The quota pertains to Baltic herring, known in Estonian as Räim and a sub-species of Atlantic herring (Estonian: heeringas).
Regional Affairs and Agriculture Minister Madis Kallas (SDE) told ERR that: "From Estonia's perspective, these [fishing quotas] turned out to be better than we had feared."
"The biggest impact on the Estonian economy related to the herring fishing quotas," Kallas went on.
"In the meantime, there had been a fear that the quotas in the open sea would fall to nothing; while there was a reduction, this was by 43 percent."
The herring quota cut for the Gulf of Riga was reduced also, from 20 percent, to 17 percent.
"All in all, I think we sent a message to the fishing industry that both inshore fishing and others can continue to at least an extent," he went on.
All-in-all, while one can always hope for more, considering the framework presented by the Estonian government and the Riigikogu EU Affairs Committee in the context of the European Commission proposals, the maximum that could be realistically extracted from the talks, was achieved.
Meanwhile the Baltic sprat fishing quota is to be reduced by 10 percent, the salmon quota by 22 percent.
Nonetheless, Minister Kallas noted, the coming years will see a trend towards declining quotas, making this a transitional phase when at least some fishing can continue.
Low fish stocks were behind the European Commission's quota culls, he added, while next year, the commission will have a new composition; the current college of commissioners' term ends in 2024..
Markus Vetemaa, researcher and director of the Estonian Marine Institute at the University of Tartu, had previously told ERR that while herring stock in the Gulf of Riga is currently above average, stocks in the open Baltic are close to the historical minimum.
Latvia and Finland have also been concerned about the effects of EU reductions in herring quotas; in the latter case, the quota for the Gulf of Bothnia, between Finland and Sweden, had been set for a 98 percent reduction, buit this has been negotiated down to 31 percent.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming