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EU Seeks Deep Cuts In Fishing Quotas For 2010

The European Commission on Tuesday proposed substantial cuts in fishing quotas next year over concerns that current levels are too high to sustain fish stocks.

EU Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg supported allowable catch cuts of "at least 25 percent" for the most vulnerable species where the commission's own scientific committee is calling for fishing to be stopped altogether.

"Slow progress has been made in stock recovery since the 2002 reform" of the EU's fisheries policy, he said in a statement.

"One of the reasons for this is that fishing opportunities consistently have been set at levels which were too high for the fish stocks to sustain," he said.

As a result, more than 80 percent of EU fish stocks are now overfished, compared with a global average of 28 percent.

On the other hand, the commission is ready to adopt "a more flexible approach" for species whose stocks are not under threat, with a cut in quotas limited to 20 percent.

For stocks which have been replenished, quotas could be lifted by 25 percent.

Total Allowable Catches (TACs) are set annually for the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, and the Northeast Atlantic including the North Sea.

TACs for fisheries on deep sea species are fixed every two years.

Fisheries in the Mediterranean are not managed through catch limits, except in the case of bluefin tuna.

Haggling involving the 27 EU member states, the fishing community and environmentalists should culminate in an overall deal agreed by the end of the year ahead of next year's fishing season.