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Brussels wants 50 per cent cut in North Sea fishing

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(BRUSSELS) - Concerns about the conservation of North Sea cod on Thursday prompted Brussels to call for a 50 percent cut in cod catches and a review of measures to ensure the future of the species.

The European Commission said cod stocks in the Kattegat, between Denmark and Sweden, in the Irish Sea, and west of Scotland "are no showing no signs of recovery."

"The Commission is therefore proposing 50 percent reductions in these total allowable catches," a statement said.

North Sea cod took a hit in 2008 when a greater proportion of the stock was caught than in any year since 1999, while closures and cod-avoidance schemes had failed to protect it and had had little effect on fishing patterns, it said.

As management of cod in the area is co-managed with Norway, the EU hopes to have talks with Oslo on redressing the situation.

On other stocks, Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki said "I regret to say there will be disappointing news on some quota levels.

"But past experience has shown that those who think they can negotiate with nature will not have a long future in fishing."

Taking into account all stocks and areas, the Commission is proposing a 10 percent reduction in quotas to 89,400 tons.

Only 40 percent of stocks are known to be fished sustainably, but there had been improvements in some important stocks, such as hake and sole.

Fisheries ministers will mull the proposals December 13 and 14.

EC fishing opportunities proposal for 2011 - guide

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