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Wednesday, 18 December, 2002, 19:48 GMT
EU talks deadlocked over cod
Fishermen protesting in St Austell
Some 28,000 jobs could be lost
European Union ministers have been struggling to agree on controversial plans to restore levels of several species of fish, notably cod, in European waters.

The EU's Danish presidency - which is completing its six-month tenure at the end of December - and the European Commission have been holding talks with individual countries with no sign of breakthrough.

The European Commission wants to reduce catches of endangered species such as cod and haddock by up to 80%.

COD FACTS
Cod is known as cabillaud in France, kabeljau in Germany and torsk in Denmark, Sweden and Norway
North Sea stocks are so low, they could collapse if fishing is not suspended
The EU is proposing an 80% cut in cod fishing

The commission has accused the pro-fishing countries - France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain - of refusing to compromise.

"There are several points where we are tough, even very tough," said French Fisheries Minister Herve Gaymard.

"There can well be a deadlock at the end of the week," he said, when EU ministers had initially hoped to push through a reform package.

The UK Government also believes the proposed plans would spell doom for its fishermen.

Fishing ministers, who have been gathered in Brussels since Monday, will resume negotiations on Thursday.

The cuts - targeted at fishing in the North Sea, Irish Sea and waters off Scotland's west coast - would also damage the French and Spanish fishing industries.

Scientists have said only massive cutbacks will save the fish from virtual extinction within a year.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Janet Barrie reports from Brussels
"The ministers face a difficult week"

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16 Dec 02 | Europe
16 Dec 02 | Science/Nature
28 May 02 | Science/Nature
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