EU cuts cod fishing quota in North Sea

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The European Union decided Wednesday to slash its fishing quotas next year with sharp cuts for cod, an overfished species, in waters off England, Scotland and Scandinavia.

EU fisheries ministers agreed after hours of negotiations in Brussels to reduce the overall allowable catch of cod from 40,219 tonnes in 2010 to 32,912 next year, an 18 percent cut.

In the North Sea off Scotland and England, the total allowable catch was cut by 20 percent from 27,848 tonnes to 22,279 tonnes.

The biggest reduction was imposed in the Kattegat waters between Denmark, Sweden and Norway: a 50 percent cut from 379 tonnes this year to 190 tonnes in 2011.

A 20 percent cut, from 4,638 tonnes to 3,711, was set for the Skagerrak waters, another zone between the Scandinavian nations.

The quota in waters off Portugal, where cod is a culinary staple, was left unchanged at 4,023 tonnes.

The overall fishing quotas agreed by the ministers were generally in line with the recommendations made by the European Commission, although the EU's executive arm had requested deeper cuts for cod.

Saskia Richartz, EU oceans policy director for environmental group Greenpeace, said the quotas for cod and tuna "are still too high."

"It's obvious that the EU is unable to manage its fisheries under current rules. Reckless overfishing must be brought under control and fisheries policy reformed to allow fish stocks to recover," Richartz said.

© 2010 AFP

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