EU fishing quotas

EU tables fishing quotas for 2006 – The European Commission has proposed 2006 fishing quotas for EU waters – the new catch limits will be debated by Europe’s fisheries ministers on December 20.

A new long term approach to EU fish stick recovery plans hold out some hopes to cod fishing fleets battered by years of drastic cuts to catch quotas.

Cuts for 2006 are smaller than previous years – from 15 per cent downwards depending on area – and are coupled with seasonal closures to protect dangerously low stocks.

Cod catch quotas for Baltic fisheries have actually been raised where seasonal closures are already in force, but a two-month closure is planned for Celtic Sea fishing.

European Commissioner for Fisheries, Joe Borg is attempting a delicate balancing act: rebuilding cod stocks and maintaining economic activity for fishing fleets.

“It is crucial that we keep to the gradual but sustained approach to reducing fishing pressure that we have subscribed to,” said Borg.

“This, combined with the growing involvement of stakeholders in the fisheries management process is key to the future of our fisheries.”

But, the international organisation for the defence of the seas, Oceana, has claimed that more than 50 per cent of European fisheries should be closed down immediately to prevent their collapse.

A report by the organisation shows that the seas off the Iberian Peninsula, the North Sea and deep-sea waters are once again topping the list of areas in the worst state.

Threatened species include sharks, rays, deep-sea fish, cod, hake, anchovy and eels.

“For more than 15 years, the politicians of the European Union have been ignoring the majority of scientific advice on fisheries management. And now the time has come to pay for this huge mistake”, said Xavier Pastor, the director of Oceana Europe.

The final decision of the commission’s proposals now rest with the Council of Fisheries ministers.

“Our political leaders need to stop playing Russian roulette with the future of our fisheries resources and marine ecosystems”, claims Ricardo Aguilar, the director of research at Oceana Europe.

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