The European Commission calls for sharp cuts in cod quotas saying the prized fish, once a common sight for divers, is sliding toward commercial extinction
In the case of cod in the North Sea, eastern channel and Skagerrak...things took a turn for the worse in 2008, when a greater proportion of the stock was caught than in any year since 1999," the European Commission said in a statement.
"We are not that far away from a situation of complete collapse," said Jose Rodriguez, a marine biologist with the environmental group Oceana.
Conservation measures for desperately depleted cod have not delivered the promised revival of supplies – partly because of continued over-fishing exceeding agreed quota limits.
"Pressure from the fishing industry had kept quotas at levels too high to sustain a viable populations around Europe, while lack of enforcement meant illegal fishing made the problem worse," Mr Rodriguez added.
Quotas will also be reduced for other fish, although less dramatically than in previous years due to a slight improvement in the situation.
Four years ago, 32 out of 34 species were overfished in European waters. This year that has dropped to 30 out of 35 species.