By Julia Fioretti
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union lawmakers and member states have agreed on a long-term plan to end over fishing of cod, sprat and herring stocks in the Baltic Sea, the first such plan of its kind under the EU's reformed fisheries policy.
The multi-annual deal clinched late on Tuesday will combine the management of cod, herring and sprat stocks into a single plan to take into account their interdependence and ensure they are sustainably managed.
Cod eat sprats and herrings while herrings and sprats feed on the eggs of cod, meaning the health of one stock affects the others. Currently, only cod are subject to a management plan.
"The plan sets the basis for the sustainable management of the most important fish stocks in the Baltic Sea," EU Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella said.
"As such, it is good news for Baltic fish stocks and for the fishermen who depend on them for their livelihood."
Under the reformed common fisheries policy, which came into force in 2014, the EU agreed to put all fish stocks on a sustainable footing by 2015 or 2020 at the latest.
Environmental groups such as the Pew Charitable Trusts said the plan did not go far enough to meet those targets and urged the executive European Commission to propose long-term plans for fish stocks in other areas, such as the North Sea.
(Reporting by Julia Fioretti; editing by Susan Thomas)