BRUSSELS, Dec 20, 2012 (AFP) - EU fisheries ministers wound up a tough 48 hours of talks on sustainable fishing with a Thursday breakfast "compromise" on the vexed issue of 2013 quotas.
Facing conflicting demands from fishermen and environmentalists, the EU's Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki said after a full night of talks: "We have achieved a compromise."
Damanaki, who was fighting powerful national fishing lobbies to cut quotas for 47 species in the Atlantic and North Sea where many stocks are over-exploited, said: "The Commission proposal was more ambitious."
She said: "But I would like to say I think I can be satisfied."
Calls for sustainable reforms
Environmentalists had pressed for reforms to allow stocks to recover above so-called Maximum Sustainable Yields (MSY), the EU benchmark, while major fishing groups warned ministers against caving in to such demands, saying large quota cuts would cost jobs and income.
Damanaki said she was satisfied with the deal as "for the great majority of the stocks, we are going to reach Maximum Sustainable Yields in 2015."
This had been made possible because of improved scientific advice, with experts now in possession of information on the state of 85% of fish stocks, double the figure of the previous year.
"So what we have decided today can give us a roadmap to reach Maximum Sustainable Yields, the healthy level, for almost all stocks by 2015," she said.