EU ministers are meeting to set fishing quotas for 2007 amid renewed calls for a total ban on catching cod.
The European Commission has recommended a 25% cut in cod and North Sea herring catches, lower plaice and sole quotas, and a six-month ban on anchovy fishing.
Scientists warned earlier this year that only a total ban on cod fishing would enable stocks to recover.
Environmentalists have urged ministers to listen to the warnings and “change course” on fisheries policies.
However, European Commission spokeswoman Mireille Thom told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that it was also important to consider the fishing industry.
“Obviously ending fishing … on cod would be most likely to give results, but we don’t live in an ideal world,” she said.