Fisheries and Aquaculture

Fisheries and AquacultureThe problem

Fisheries in the Baltic Sea have a large impact on the status of the sea environment and this goes beyond the status of fish stocks. A sea and marine ecosystem in balance needs a thriving marine life and fish play a key role in the ecosystem. The Baltic cod is very important as a top predator and feed on sprat and herring. Over the past decades, the cod stock has been severely overfished, resulting in larger amounts of pelagic fish which has changed the entire ecosystem from cod dominated to sprat and herring dominated.

Aquaculture in the marine environment represents a number of environmental challenges such as nutrient losses and increased eutrophication, risks of spreading diseases and parasites, genetic pollution via escapees, the feed used is putting high pressure on wild stocks. The Baltic environmental NGOs in CCB jointly support land based recirculation aquaculture systems (RAS) as the best available technology and best suited for the Baltic region. RAS systems by default are incorporating the polluter’s pays principle since it pays for cleaning and reusing its water to a large extent.

The Goal

The goal is to promote sustainable fisheries together with a focus on more low impact fishing techniques and sustainable aquaculture. The key to achieving a better Baltic Sea environment and healthier fish stocks is promoting the use of seines, traps and nets instead of trawling. The MSFD stipulates that a healthy fish stock is not just safe numbers, but also a varied size, sex and age structure.

How is CCB working with this issue?

Our work related to fisheries is very much linked, not only to the implementation of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), but also to the overarching goal of reaching Good Environmental/Ecological Status (GES).

We support the goals and ambitions of the new CFP, HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP), EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and the Baltic Sea Fisheries Forum (BALTFISH) in reaching good environmental status for all fish stocks by 2020. By participating and also coordinating meetings and consultations in these arenas we foster to improve the implementation of the CFP and to secure its transparent regionalisation and accountability.

We promote land based and closed aquaculture systems, stressing the need to change focus in management from “fish” to “sea”, and produce and publish materials regarding fishing and aquaculture.

See our dedicated page on eel and cod.

CCB is also taking part of #OurBlueLung campaign, led by Seas at Risk, to put pressure on EU governments to respect the commitment they made under the EU marine law to deliver clean and healthy seas by 2020. Throughout 2019 and 2020, we will take action at different points in time to remind governments of their commitment, focusing on five important threats to our seas and ocean: overfishing, plastics, noise pollution, intensive farming and chemical pollution.

What can countries do together?

  • Apply a cautionary and ecosystem approach for Baltic Sea Fisheries and follow the scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES);
  • The fishing and fleet size must match the available resources;
  • Only the most environmentally friendly and responsible fishermen should be granted access to the fish resource and be allowed to fish.

What can each country do?

  • Follow the scientific advice from ICES for fishing of cod, sprat, herring, salmon, sea trout and flat fishes;
  • Develop action plans safeguards and improve the natural reproduction of Baltic salmon and sea trout in all rivers and rivers with potential for natural reproduction;
  • Only the most environmentally friendly and responsible fishermen should be granted access to the fish resource and be allowed to fish.

What can you do?

  • Lobby your own government and contribute to a better public awareness of the threat against the Baltic fish stocks;
  • Gather interested people and initiate or participate in local projects to restore natural reproduction of salmon and sea trout in the rivers near you, thereby contributing to the protection of a unique regional stock;
  • As a consumer, you must request restaurants and fishmongers to provide eco-labelled fish and not sell wild Baltic salmon or eel.


See all CCB Publications about Fisheries and Aquaculture in Publications.



September 5, 2019

CCB joined the Ocean Call for G7

We have joined and signed the Ocean Call, which carries the voice and the commitments of more than 50 organizations mobilized for the ocean alongside Surfrider Foundation Europe.

Following the G7 Summit, the Ocean Call will also be staged at the United Nations Climate Change Summit in New York in September, at the COP 25 in Chile in December and finally at the COP 15 on Biodiversity in China in 2020.

Read the full declaration here.

March 6, 2019

Real actions, not ´realistic´ wishes – a recipe for an updated Baltic Sea Action plan

On 6-7 March high-level representatives met at the 40th Meeting of the Helsinki Commission. On this occasion, CCB was grateful to share the concerns of civil society organizations and almost a million individual members of CCB´s network around the Baltic Sea. Our concerns were (and are) connected with continuous and increasing violations of the fundamental principles and provisions of the Helsinki Convention:

  • Precautionary principle and science-based management;
  • Transparency, trust and sharing information to minimize transboundary impacts;
  • Joint measures for reaching joint goals, instead of prioritising actions of “overriding national interest”.

Read the full CCB´s statement here.


December 7, 2018

A joint NGO proposal to EU Ministers regarding European eel

On December 17th and 18th 2018 the EU Fisheries Council (AGRIFISH) will decide on fishing opportunities for 2019 and will address measures for critically endangered European eel. ICES has yet again repeated their advice that: “all anthropogenic impacts (e.g. caused by recreational and commercial fishing on all stages, hydropower, pumping stations, and pollution) that decrease production and escapement of silver eels should be reduced to – or kept as close to – zero as possible in 2019” [ICES Advice 7th November 2018].

We call upon – together with The Fisheries Secretariat, Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, Our Fish, Seas at Risk and WWF – the EU Commission and Member States to act accordingly in light of this advice, the same advice ICES has given for over 15 years.

Read the full letter here.

November 28, 2018

WWF Sweden, SSNC and CCB call upon Swedish government to stop fishing for eels

In light of ICES advice, eNGOs urge to a total ban for all fishing of eels in all waters – but welcome the first step regarding fishing of eels over twelve centimetres, decided by the EU Fisheries Ministers last year, which will apply for three consecutive months between 1 September 2018 – 31 January 2019.

We therefore ask that Sweden take lead and push for a phasing out of the eel fishery at coming December meeting of AGRIFISH across the entire EU, on all sizes of eel and that recreational fishing is stopped.

The full letter in Swedish is available here.

September 24, 2018

Joint NGO recommendations on Baltic Sea fishing opportunities for 2019

In October 2018, EU fisheries ministers are scheduled to agree on fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2019. The following text outlines the joint NGO recommendations on Baltic Sea fishing opportunities for 2019 in the context of EU fisheries legislation, scientific advice on catch limits and the sharing of stocks with third countries.

Read the NGOs proposal here.

August 13, 2018

50 NGOs call on the International Seabed Authority to reconsider the need for deep sea mining

As the International Seabed Authority (ISA) gathers in Jamaica (24th session, July 2018), environmental organisations are calling on governments to wake up to the irreversible harm that deep sea mining will inflict, not only to marine ecosystems but also to global efforts to transition to a sustainable economy.

In a joint statement to the ISA, 50 organisations, including CCB, Greenpeace and Seas At Risk, warn of significant loss of biodiversity if the world’s seabeds are opened up to mining.

Read the full statement here.

June 13, 2018

CCB supports the joint call on the European anti-fraud office to open a formal investigation about electric fishing

CCB has signed the joint formal request, lead by the Bloom Association, to the European Anti Freud Office (known as OLAF from the French “Office européen de lutte antifraude”) to conduct an investigation into whether fraud has occurred in relation to the Dutch electric trawl fishery.

Electric fishing is one of the worst fishing practice and it MUST be banned in Europe!

Read the full PR here.

March 5, 2018

Joint NGO letter to ministers about HELCOM BSAP

A joint NGO letter from CCB, Oceana and WWF to the minsters of environment concerning the progress towards BSAP goals in 2021. This letter was sent as part of the Ministerial meeting in HELCOM, 6th of March 2018:  Joint Letter to ministers on BSAP WWF Oceana CCB


February 28, 2017

To reach the SDGs globally the Baltic-wide actions need to be implemented first!

logo_2rToday, high-level representatives of the HELCOM Contracting Parties will meet in Helsinki to discuss how the Baltic Sea Region can contribute to the global goals on the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources by 2030. Actions related to eutrophication, marine litter and climate change will be given special focus in the discussions.

On behalf of environmentally concerned citizens of the Baltic Sea catchment, Coalition Clean Baltic would like to share some input to this work and bring to the attention of regional decision-makers the urgent needs to be addressed in order to reach the Sustainable Development Goals, (SDGs) and, even more importantly, to save the Baltic Sea from further deterioration.

Read the full statement here.







May 12, 2016

Ministers: take action and uphold your responsibilities on marine protection

CCB has joined a group of NGOs  (Greenpeace, Oceana, WWF, Swedish and Danish Societies for Nature conservation, Swedish and Danish Anglers Associations, Living Sea and Fisheries Secretariat) and written an open letter to the ministers in Denmark and Sweden asking them to uphold the existing closed areas in the Kattegatt. The area has been closed to fishing since 2009 and may represent on of the few productive fishing areas in EU that has not been trawled at all the past 7 years.

The joint NGO position is that the area must be made a permanent closed area not only to protect fish reproduction and weak fish stocks but also because of natural values existing in the area. Following the closure in 2009, the recovery of the bottom in the area is remarkable and to protect the area permanently suits well with EU and Member states ambitions under Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) implementation. In fact the opposite, to not protect it, is hard to argue for or even consider due to the uniqueness of such a trawl free area. Opening up the area for active fishing and especially towed gear such as trawls is going from an clearly improved or even good environmental status (GES) towards not meeting the GES objective. That is a breach of the objectives of not only MSFD but also Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

The full letter can be read here (in Swedish): Brev Kattegatt final svenska



Scientific statement: the area closed for fishing since 2009 has had clear positive effects and should stay in place. Read (in Swedish)

Swedish Scientific evaluation of the area (in English):

STECF evaluation of the effects of the closed area (in English):


March 11, 2016

Statement at the 37th Meeting of the Helsinki Commission, 10-11 March 2016

Once again, we would like to share with you the concerns of civil society organizations and over 800,000 individual members of CCB’s network around the Baltic Sea.

Read Statement here: CCB_statement_HELCOM37_2016


December 11, 2015

CCBs joint statement on sustainable aquaculture – update 2015

CCB made already in 2014 a joint statement, underlining the important steps needed for a sustainable aquaculture sector in the Baltic Sea catchment. This statement has now been updated with a clearer stance on what we as an NGO group can support and that we do not consider open cage farms in the Baltic an option at all. Furthermore, in light of several pilot projects and research studies on compensatory measures, we do not consider such compensatory measures acceptable as arguments for allowing further development of open cage systems since they are neither economically viable nor actually compensate in a sufficient way. CCB considers closed re-circulatory land-based system (RAS) as best available technology (BAT) and that any and all public money to support a growth in the sector should only be used for BAT. Other land based systems such as ponds etc with species not requiring feed input or that does not produce nutrient run off can also be considered. This statement has also been translated into Polish and Lithuanian.

Read the statement here: CCB Sustainable Aquaculture update 2015 final

December 1, 2015

CCB statement on the conservation of the Baltic Sea harbour porpoise

These are CCB proposals for action for the conservation of the Baltic Sea harbour porpoise population. These actions are necessary for all EU Member States to fulfill the demands on monitoring programs and programs of measures under the MSFD, and to meet the requirements of the Habitat Directive and the HELCOM BSAP.

 Read the statement here: CCB_statement_on_porpoise_to_fulfill_MSFD_and_HELCOM_2015

November 19, 2015

Pending issues from HELCOM STATE & CONSERVATION 3-2015

With reference to the Terms of Reference of the HELCOM STATE & CONSERVATION Group, Coalition Clean Baltic submitted the following two information documents to the third Meeting of the Group:

  • (7J-4) Proposal for actions to save European eel in the Baltic Sea
  •  (7J-5) Physical loss and damage to the sea floor marine sediment extraction in the Baltic Sea

Read statement here: 4-19 Pending issues from State and Conservation 3-2015_CCB

November 19, 2015

Funding the EU MSFD Programs of Measures

A crucial part of the coherent implementation of the BSAP and the EU MSFD is the commitment to fund the needed measures to reach the GES targets. CCB is becoming concerned that several CPs being also EU MS have argued at different occasions, including the IG PoM and EU MSCG, that funding is a major problem for implementing the MSFD PoMs.  For a number of reasons CCB considers these claims unjustified.

Read statement here: 4-17 Funding the EU MSFD Programs of Measures_CCB

November 11, 2015

Proposal for actions to save European eel in the Baltic Sea

European Eel (Anguilla anguilla) is listed as critically endangered (one step away from extinct in the wild). The EU in 2007 jointly decided on a management plan for the recovery of the eel stock. The Member States are required to take measures to secure that 40% of adult eels reach the sea for migration to spawning grounds. It is the Member States own responsibility to take relevant measures, and the Commission reviewed the measures so far.

Read statement here: 7J-4 Proposal for actions to save European eel in the Baltic Sea


November 2, 2015

Physical loss and damage to the sea floor: marine sediment extraction in the Baltic Sea

HELCOM’s Initial Holistic Assessment of Ecosystem Health of the Baltic Sea (BSEP122) considers dredging and marine sediment extraction as pressures, which can have large impacts on local marine environments. Such impacts include smothering of benthic organisms, abrasion of the sea bottom, as well as increased siltation and resuspension of contaminated bottom sediments caused by dredging/extraction activities. Scientific studies, underwater observations and hydrographic surveys have shown that impacted bottom sites can take decades to recover, if at all do so.

Read statement here: 7J-5 Physical loss and damage to the sea floor marine sediment extraction in the Baltic Sea

August 19, 2015

Time to Stop Eel fishing

CCB together with 28 environmental organizations has sent this letter to the EU Commission demanding that all eel fishing in Europe should stop and that other needed action to halt the human induced eel mortality until the stock has recovered must be put in place. Read the letter here

April 17, 2015

Statement on NGO priorities for EP Plenary vote on the Baltic MAP

A group of NGOs collaborating on implementation of the CFP and supporting a new management plan for the Baltic Sea Fisheries that meets the ambition of the new CFP. This statement was sent to MEPs in EP prior to the vote in April 2015 on the Baltic Multiannual Plan file (2014/0285(COD) in plenary. The statement shows support of the agreed report from the PECH fisheries expert Committee and urges MEPs to make sure the plan matches the CFP.

NGO Priorities on the Baltic MAP for EP Plenary

April 1, 2015

Letter to EU Fisheries Ministers

A statement letter to the EU Fisheries Ministers from Coalition Clean Baltic, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, Client Earth, Oceana, Seas at Risk, The Fisheries Secretariat, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and WWF Poland. Read the letter

March 26, 2015

Key NGO priorities for the Baltic Multi-Annual Plan to European Parliament

This is a statement with recommendations from a joint group of NGOs directly addressing the Baltic MAP proposal report and amendments given to the PECH Committe in EP, March 2015. 20150326 NGO priorities Baltic MAP_final

February 28, 2015

NGO briefing for BALTFISH on the MAP

NGO considerations for BALTFISH members on the Multiannual plan for the main Baltic Fisheries. Read the briefing here

January 22, 2015

Joint NGO priorities on the multiannual plan for the Baltic Sea

This is a joint statement on key priorities to address in creation of the new multiannual fisheries management plan for the sprat, herring and cod stocks in the Baltic Sea.possibilities_for_baltic_sea_fisheries It is a joint statement including CCB, Birdlife, Oceana, WWF, FISH and FANC and it has been shared with Member States and European Parliament members as well as internally in NGOs. Read the statement here: Jan2015 Joint NGO Priorities on the Baltic Sea Multiannual Plan_FINAL


August 1, 2014

Priorities for environmentally responsible aquaculture in the EU

A joint NGO position paper by  Coalition Clean Baltic (CCB), Seas At Risk (SAR), BirdLife Europe, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), The Fisheries Secretariat (FISH), Marine Conservation Society (MCS), European Bureau for Conservation and Development (EBCD), Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, North Sea Foundation, Friends of the Earth, Germany (BUND), ENT Foundation.

February 28, 2014

Joint NGO response from CCB, FISH, FANC and Oceana on Landing Obligation

CCB, Fishereis Secretariat, Oceana, FANC and WWF made a joint response to a draft discard plan presented by the BALTFISH group. The original text and the NGO statement is available here: Joint NGO statement BALTFISH original proposal

Relevant links to international NGOs working on fisheries and aquaculture

The Fisheries Secretariat – Seas at Risk – Oceana Europe – Our Fish –

Other links


Antanas KontautasLithuanian Green Movement/ Environmental club ZvejoneLithuania
Gunnar NorénSenior AdvisorSweden
Maret MerisaarEstonian Water AssociationEstonia
Nils HöglundFisheries Policy OfficerSweden
Tapani VeistolaVuosaari Harbour / Finnish Association for Nature ConservationFinland+358 922 808 266
Antanas KontautasLithuanian Green Movement/ Environmental club ZvejoneLithuania
Bettina TaylorBUND, Friends of the Earth GermanyGermany
Dmitry SendekBaltic Fund for
Gunnar NorénSenior AdvisorSweden
Ida CarlénBiodiversity and Nature Conservation OfficerSweden
Lindsay KeenanSenior Finance Campaigner, The Sunrise ProjectSweden
Maret MerisaarEstonian Water AssociationEstonia
Nils HöglundFisheries Policy OfficerSweden
Robertas StaponkusLithuanian Fund for NatureLithuania+370 6 9846 719
Tapani VeistolaVuosaari Harbour / Finnish Association for Nature ConservationFinland+358 922 808 266