EU Debates Catch Cuts to Save Fish
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BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ European Union governments received a stark warning Wednesday to cut fishing catches by up to 80 percent or risk the disappearance of cod, hake and other dinnertime favorites threatened by overfishing.
``Stocks that not so long ago produced 200,000 tons of food from EU waters are now so depleted that we are in the dark as to what is going to happen to them,″ EU Agriculture and Fisheries Commissioner Franz Fischler said. ``We have a moral duty not to let these stocks disappear.″
Fischler wants governments to agree to drastic cuts in catch quotas and scrap thousands of boats. EU governments seem sure to resist the deepest cuts or try to shift the demands to other EU nations.
Experts from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea had proposed a moratorium on all cod fishing in the worst-hit areas such the North Sea, western Scotland or the channel between Denmark and Norway.
Fearing a backlash, Fischler backed away from a complete ban. Instead he was seeking support for an 80 percent reduction in the cod and haddock catch, 75 percent for whiting, 40 percent for plaice and 30 percent for sole.