ICES advice for Baltic Sea quotas in 2021

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has announced their advice for next year’s fishing possibilities in the Baltic Sea. These include the recommendation to stop all fishing for Eastern Baltic cod and Western spring spawning herring, as was the case last year.

Eastern Baltic cod and western spring spawning herring have both been fished above sustainable levels for many years, despite significant declines in biomass. It is now recommended that the fisheries are closed. Neither population is expected to recover to the minimum biomass threshold that would allow fishing to begin again until at least 2024 and 2023 respectively.

For western Baltic cod, due to the low biomass, a quota in the range of 2,960 to 4,635 tonnes of commercial catches is applicable under the EU management plan for Baltic fish stocks. In recent years recruitment has been at record low levels with the exception of the 2016 year class. This year class comprised 88% of all catches in the stock. This indicates that the population is extremely unbalanced.

For 2020, the western Baltic cod spawning stock biomass has been revised downward by 30% on last year’s projection, following on from a 45% downward revision the previous year. There are strong indications that the model used to predict the development of the stock has a significant bias that overestimates the predicted biomass increases and underestimates the fishing mortality levels. The ICES working group report (WGBFAS) warns in section 2.3.9 management considerations: “stronger year classes are needed to ensure continuance of a commercial fishery”.


The full article can be found at

More on the topic:

Pressmitteilung (29.05.2020) ‚Internationaler Rat für Meeresforschung veröffentlicht Fangempfehlung für Ostseebestände 2021‘ (pdf) can be found at

Article (29.05.2020) ‘Baltic Sea Fish Stocks Remain in Crisis – NGOs Call for Closures of Herring and Cod stocks’ can be found at