The closure of the fisheries targeting eastern Baltic cod was also continued in the Baltic fisheries opportunities for 2021, adopted through Council Regulation 2020/1579 at the Council meeting of 19 October 2020. The remaining TAC for the unavoidable by-catch of the stock was significantly further reduced from 2 000 tonnes to only 595 tonnes for 2021 (-70 %). As explained in the Commission proposal and during the presentation of the 2021 fishing opportunities to the PECH Committee on 1 October 2020, the reduction of the TAC is according to scientific advice requested on the topic, updated by ICES in May 2020, whereby the Commission follows the scenario of a maximum 20 % of cod bycatch. Also the TAC for western Baltic herring, was again strongly reduced (-50 %) as the stock continues to be assessed as below the safe biological limit, requiring remedial measures. As the western Baltic cod stock also remains below healthy levels, its TAC has been set again at a low level, however the Council adjusted the value slightly upwards (+5 %) to 4 000 tonnes as compared to the 11 % reduction envisaged in the Commission proposal. The closure period for cod catches in subdivision 24, where both cod stocks are mixed, has now also been extended to the four-month spawning closure period (May-August) already applicable in the eastern subdivisions, 25 and 26. Figure 3 shows the evolution of the TACs for western herring and the two cod stocks in the Baltic Sea over the last six years, together with the level of quota uptake (based on available data for the years 2016-2019). The low level of cod quota uptake even before the closure of eastern Baltic cod fisheries mid 2019, was already a sign of the poor state of the stock.
Fishing opportunities for the western Baltic herring and the two Baltic cod stocks (2016-2021, in tonnes) and the level of quota uptake (2016-2019)
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