Baltic Marine Environment
Protection Commission

HELCOM Actions

In the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan the Contracting Parties urge competent fisheries authorities to take all the necessary measures to ensure that, by 2021, populations of all commercially exploited fish species are within safe biological limits, reach Maximum Sustainable Yield, and are distributed through their natural range, and contain full size/age range, and therefore urge the competent fisheries authorities in co-operation with the Baltic RAC and HELCOM to take immediate actions for:

– development of long-term management plans for commercially exploited fish stocks so that they are within safe biological limits and reach agreed targets, such as Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY), and improve their distribution and size/age-range, especially for salmon, sea trout, pelagic species (sprat and herring), and flatfish species, by 2010;

–   introduction of additional fisheries management measures based on the best available scientific evidence to achieve: 

  • that all caught species and by-catch which cannot be released alive or without injuries are landed and reported, by 2012; 
  • continued designation of additional/improved spatial and/or temporal closures of sufficient size and duration for fisheries to prevent capture of spawning and juvenile fish;
  •  the designation of additional permanent closures of sufficient size for fisheries to prevent capture of non-target species to protect important reproduction and feeding areas and to protect ecosystems, by 2012;
  • the further development and application in all cases of appropriate breeding and restocking practices for salmon and sea trout to safeguard the genetic variability of native wild stocks, by 2012;
  •  the urgent adoption of measures to minimise by-catch of undersized fish and non-target species by 2012;
  • by an evaluation of the effectiveness of existing technical measures, by 2008, to minimise by-catch of harbour porpoises, and to introduce adequate new technologies and measures. 

HELCOM 2013 Ministerial Declaration

Moreover, in HELCOM 2013 Ministerial Declaration, Contracting Parties have agreed that populations of all commercially exploited fish and shellfish should be within safe biological limits, exhibiting a population age and size distribution indicative of a healthy stock and that Maximum Sustainable Yield shall be achieved by 2015 where possible and on a progressive, incremental basis at the latest by 2020 for all stocks.

They also welcomed the introduction, as from 2015, of the discard ban under the EU Common Fisheries Policy and supported regionally appropriate solutions to solving the discard problem such as through improved selectivity and fishing behavior and incentives to facilitate a smooth transition to applying the ban.

Contracting Parties fully support an ecosystem-based approach for fisheries management with the development of a multi-species management plan for the main commercial Baltic Sea fish stocks including conservation measures to maintain or restore fish stocks above levels capable of producing Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) exploitation rates by 2015 where possible and by 2020 at the latest; This approach should contribute to the achievement of Good Environmental Status as measured by indicators under the coherent implementation of HELCOM BSAP and the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

The CPs decided to take action to reduce the negative impacts of fishing activities on the marine ecosystem and to this end, SUPPORT the development of fisheries management and technical measures to minimize unwanted by-catch of fish, birds and mammals in order to achieve the close to zero target for by-catch rates of the Baltic Sea Action Plan and minimize damage to sea bed habitats.

They agreed to continue the work on strengthening ecosystem-based management for coastal fish populations, utilizing, and enhancing as far as possible, monitoring for assessment of coastal fish communities;

They also agreed to continue the work on developing common procedures to facilitate the sharing of aggregated data on fisheries activities in the Baltic Sea in an applicable format for the purpose of assessing  pressures on marine and coastal ecosystems e.g. to be applied in maritime spatial planning.