Press information

Late on Sunday evening, October 22, in Luxembourg, after lengthy discussions at the meeting of high-level experts of the cooperation platform of the Baltic Sea countries (BALTFISH), a joint proposal of the Baltic Sea states has been prepared on fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea in 2024. In this agreement, BALTFISH proposed a considerably lower reduction in fishing quotas for Baltic herring and sprats as compared with a radical proposal from the European Commissions (EC), which even envisaged the closure of herring specialized fishing in the Baltic Sea. The compromise proposal reached by the BALTFISH countries, reached in the course of lengthy discussions on October 23 and 24 at the EU Council of Ministers for Agriculture and Fisheries, was also accepted by the European Commission and Spain, the presiding country of the Council of the European Union (EU), in the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council, which accordingly proposed changes in the 2024 catch quotas. The compromise reached was unanimously approved by the EU Council on October 24.

As a result, the lower reduction of herring catch quota in the Baltic Sea, determined for Latvia, will be 43%, instead of 60%, as suggested by the EC. In addition, for 2024, there is no restriction on herring fishing only as a by-catch in the fishing of other species, which makes it easier for fishermen to fulfill the already difficult fishing requirements. This means that it was possible to increase Latvia's herring quota by 227 tons. In the harsh situation with Baltic Sea herring stocks, as described by scientists, such an improvement is also of vital importance, so that fishermen can more successfully continue fishing for sprats, in which herring makes up a small part of the by-catch.

Whereas, a significantly smaller reduction was won for the sprat catch quota, setting it at 10% instead of 23%, as foreseen in the original EC proposals. Thus, it was possible to increase Latvia's quota for catching of sprats by 4037 tons, as compared to the original EC proposal. Latvia relentlessly and purposefully reminds that the radical reduction in herring and sprat catch, proposed by the European Commission, is not scientifically justified. In Latvia’s opinion, when making decisions, scientifically accepted admissible volumes of fishing opportunities must be followed instead of creating bureaucratic or artificial conditions, aggravating fishermen situation.

Together with Estonia, Latvia also emphasized that the planned 20% reduction in catch quotas for herring in the Gulf of Riga is greater than what is determined by science. Scientific recommendations allow a maximum reduction of 17% for this stable fish stock that is adequate to condition of this fish stock. Even a 3% difference in fishing opportunities means 778 tons of herring for Latvia.
For salmon and cod stocks, as in previous years, in 2024, only their by-catch is allowed on the coast and in fishing of other species. Specialized fishing for these species has not been allowed since 2020. In addition, the salmon by-catch quota for 2024 is reduced by 15%, and for Latvia it amounts to 7113 pieces. This is enough to cover the salmon by-catch needs of Latvian fishermen in the mixed fishing of different species on the coast.

The Minister for Agriculture, Armands Krauze, after the decision was made at the Council, emphasized: “I am genuinely satisfied by a strong position, taken by the Ministry of Agriculture and professionalism of our experts at the level of BALTFISH, whilst defending interests of our state and successfully collaborating with other countries. These efforts resulted in understanding and support from the European Commission. As a result of this decision our fishermen in 2024 will have considerably better fishing opportunities that they have been initially envisaged in the proposal for Regulation. Ensuring viability of fishery and coastal regions is a particularly important area of our activities. Therefore, the Ministry will always keep these issues in its focus, and they will always be on our list of priorities.”

Information on Latvian fishing opportunities for 2024* (compared to 2023):
•    Western part cod (sub-district 22-24) 12 tons only for by-catch – (33%, compared to 72% initially proposed by EC);
•    Eastern cod (subdistrict 25-32) 51 tons only for by-catch – (0%);
•    Herring in the Baltic Sea 1119 tons – (43%, compared to 60% initially proposed by EC);
•    Herring in the Gulf of Riga 20430 tons – (17%, compared to 20% initially proposed by EC);
•    Sprats 27807 tons – (10%, compared to 23% initially proposed by EC);
•    Salmon 7113 pieces only for by-catch – (-15%).

Dagnija Muceniece

Head of Division
Dagnija.Muceniece [at]