EU commission protects Baltic Sea cod

The European Commission called for decrease catch quotas of Baltic Sea cod and other species next year. It warned that stocks were suffering from continued overfishing there.

European Union Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg is recommending EU governments back a reduction of 23 percent in the EU quota for eastern Baltic cod, from 40,805 tons to 31,561 tons and of 33 percent on western Baltic cod from 26,696 tons to 17,930 tons.

"Given the continued poor state of fish stocks, particularly of cod, in the Baltic Sea, the commission proposes cuts in most quotas," said EU spokeswoman Mireille Thom. "Efforts have to be made in ensuring conservation rules are applied; this is an area that needs a lot of improvement."

EU officials said a main problem for concern continues to be the failure to report actual catch sizes of cod and other species in the Baltic, which is frustrating efforts to sustain a future and viable fishery there.

The commission also warned EU governments to cut quotas of salmon and western Baltic herring stocks in the Baltic region.

It said younger salmon have been showing a "very low" survival rate and proposed a 15 percent cut in salmon catches for 2008. A 20 percent reduction in western herring catches is also recommended.

The latest forecasts from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea painted bleak assessments for cod, whiting and herring in June. ICES has recommended no fishing for cod in large areas of EU waters.

Because of the dearth of cod, ICES advises banning targeted cod fishing in such commercially vital areas as the North Sea, Kattegat and the Eastern Baltic, where stocks remain low.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova