Governments accused of illegal agreement to overfish

Quotas agreed at an EU Council summit exceed scientists' recommended maximum catch limits, campaigners said on Wednesday while accusing agriculture and fisheries ministers of contravening an EU law calling for all species to be fished at sustainable limits by 2020.

The deal, which followed hours of intense negotiation in Brussels, saw the catch limits for 32 stocks in the Atlantic, North and the Mediterranean Seas either raised or maintained at current levels, while 40 were reduced. The result is the number of species fished at sustainable levels next year from 59 to 62.

The 2013 Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) Regulation obliges governments to ensure that all stocks are fished at or below maximum sustainable yield by 2015, or 2020 at the latest in exceptional cases.

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