EU fish chief warns on herring, raises cod quota

BRUSSELS Wed Sep 15, 2010 8:47am EDT

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Fishermen in the Baltic Sea should be allowed to haul in much more cod next year but herring populations are in peril and quotas should be cut by nearly a third, Europe's fisheries chief said on Wednesday.

Maria Damanaki is eager to put an end to decades of bad fisheries management, which has driven many European fish populations to critically low levels.

The western Baltic herring stock has reached record lows due to high fishing pressure and slow reproduction in recent years, EU scientists say.

"We will need to make serious reductions in fishing pressure to ensure sustainable management of these important stocks," Damanaki said in a statement.

Her team at the European Commission proposed a 30 percent cut to the quota for the Baltic's western herring fishery to 15,884 tonnes in 2011 and a 28 percent cut for the central herring fishery to 91,640 tonnes.

European fisheries ministers, who have a long history of damaging stocks by ignoring the Commission's scientific advice, will discuss the proposal and decide quotas at a meeting in October.

By contrast, cod is reproducing well in the Baltic and has benefited from recent conservation measures.

The quota for eastern Baltic cod should be raised 15 percent to 58,957 tonnes in 2011, and that for western baltic cod should be raised by 6 percent to 18,800 tonnes, the Commission said.

The main Baltic salmon fishery is suffering from low survival of juveniles at sea, and quotas should therefore be cut 15 percent to 250,109 tonnes.

(Reporting by Pete Harrison; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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