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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 December 2006, 11:12 GMT
Commission calls for cuts in cod

The Commission recommends continuing to catch cod
The European Commission has called for cuts in catches of cod, herring, plaice, whiting and haddock for 2007.

Announcing its annual recommendations to European ministers, the commission said there had been no significant improvement in cod stocks.

Conservation groups say the commission's proposed 25% cut in cod catch would make little impact.

In October, the EU's scientific advisory body recommended that no cod or anchovy should be caught next year.

Making continued adjustments to cod quotas alone will frankly not help cod populations recover
Dr Tom Pickerell, WWF

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (Ices) has made this recommendation on cod four years running, but each year the commission has recommended more modest cuts which have been made still more modest by European ministers.

This year's final decision is anticipated on 19 December.

'Modest' target

European Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg admitted that fishing pressure was still too great on some stocks, but said others were showing signs of recovery.

"We must take heart from the positive signs observed in some of the stocks subject to long-term [recovery] plans," he told reporters at a Brussels news conference.

Mackerel (BBC)

Stocks showing signs of recovery include populations of hake around northern Europe and some populations of mackerel, for which the commission recommends increases in the annual catch.

But these are the exception. The commission wants quotas cut for cod, herring, plaice, pollack, skate, sole, whiting, ling, Norway lobster, tusk, and most haddock populations.

In November, a vast global study of fisheries projected that without major changes in fishing behaviour there would be nothing left to fish from the world's seas by 2050.

Environmental groups have condemned what they describe as "modest" recommendations from the European Commission.

WWF's Fisheries Policy Officer Tom Pickerell said: "Making continued adjustments to cod quotas alone will frankly not help cod populations recover, or enable fishermen to make long-term plans."

The organisation advocates expanding the use of selective fishing gear, placing observers on boats, and setting limits on bycatch (catching species other than the target).

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