Several cod stocks have collapsed during the past four decades from the North Atlantic to the North Sea, due to overfishing. In January 2008, the EU adopted a long-term plan for the cod stocks by restricting fisheries, and allowing the stocks to recover. The international council for the exploration of the sea (ICES) has also established that the growth of cod in the Baltic Sea is dangerously low, especially in the West Baltic Sea. Therefore a ban on cod fisheries was introduced to ensure the cod stock. Cod fishing is currently prohibited between 1 February and 31 March in the western Baltic Sea.
Despite this prohibition, the Danish government has made it possible for Danish fishermen to catch cod with help of a loophole in the EU-legislation. If you want to catch fish that is not prohibited, for example plaice, and unintendedly get cod in the net, it is totally legal to keep the catch. This is strongly criticized by different environmental organizations. The Danish government limited the catch of cod to 10% of the total weight of fish that the Danish fishermen are allowed to catch. By the government’s use of this loophole, the Danish fishermen can catch more than half of the cod quota for the west Baltic Sea.