Sweden: extra quota to trawlers

Sweden: extra quota allocation to trawlers could put the survival

of the Western Baltic Cod stock and SSFs are risk

Warsaw, 11th December 2017

Marcin Ruciński

LIFE noted that the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (HaV) has now allocated extra 150 tons of Western cod quota to trawlers (on top of 120 tons allocated in October). This happened when the utilization rate in the passive gear (i.e. mostly small-scale) segment is now at 96%, and the utilization rate in the trawl segment is a meagre 16% (official data).

It is clear from the ICES advice and discussions within the Baltic Sea Advisory Council and elsewhere, that selectivity of currently used trawls is very far from OK, leading to i.a. increased illegal cod discards. We thus fear that allowing extra trawls’ fishing effort will result in twice as many dead fish in the water, including lots of juveniles. We very much hope that the HaV, through intensive at-sea inspections, will make sure this will not happen. If they do not, the very much hoped-for recovery of Western Baltic cod stock might be put at risk.

This quota should thus have been left where it was originally allocated – with the small-scale, low impact cod fishery segment in Sweden, using passive gears in the most sustainable way. Our fleet segment has been heavily weakened by low quota allocations in the past, difficult markets and the high impact of increasing grey seal population. Still, it shows resilience and strength by using the allocation at their disposal. HaV, alongside other interested authorities and organizations in Sweden, must strengthen the passive gear segments to help their small-scale, low impact fishers survive and develop, thus supporting the coastal communities they work in. At LIFE, we simply fail to understand why the opposite is happening.

Having heard from a high-level HaV representative at the Simrishamn conference last month that the spectre of introducing ITQs in cod fishery segment is not an immediate prospect, we trust that this decision is not yet another example of “track record pumping” in the run-up to the crucially important initial ITQs allocation exercise, putting one fleet segment against the other. In any case, this unfortunate decision must not have any impact whatsoever on any future quota sharing between the segments of passive gears and trawlers.

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