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EU draws fire for allowing 'overfishing' of Baltic cod

Oct 11 2016 16:06

Brussels - European Union ministers have agreed to cuts in Baltic cod catch quotas that fall well short of calls by scientists worried about the stock's eventual collapse.

The fisheries ministers agreed overnight Monday to reduce catches of western Baltic cod by 56%, despite calls by scientists for a 90% cut they say is needed to sustain stocks in Danish and German waters.

EU fisheries commissioner Karmenu Vellu said the commission, the bloc's executive, had proposed a reduction of 88% "to bring back the stock to sustainability as soon as possible," but had to accept a compromise to reach a deal among all member states.

Listening to the potential impacts on the different fishing fleets, Vellu said: "I have accepted a lower reduction that is still well above the lower limit of the scientific advice."

Vellu said the quotas would be accompanied by other measures to "protect this vulnerable species," including limiting recreational fishing to catches of five cod per day per person and even stricter limits of three per day during the spawning season.

But conservation groups like Oceana were still concerned.

"Today's agreement seems to cover the bare minimum for legal requirements but lacks ambition to restore the heavily overfished Western Baltic cod back to healthy levels," Oceana's Europe director Lasse Gustavsson said in a statement.

"By deciding to continue overfishing, ministers not only risk environmental collapse but also ignore the potential growth for all fishing communities along the Baltic coast that depend on this iconic fish," the director said.

Tough quotas have encouraged a rebound in badly-depleted cod fisheries in the North Sea and Canada.

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europe  |  uk  |  environment  |  fishing  |  agribusiness
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