BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Fishing limits for wild salmon in the Baltic Sea will be unchanged or cut slightly next year, under European proposals published on Friday, which environmentalists say ignore concerns that some sub-species could face extinction.
The European Commission says there should be a year-on-year cut of 11 percent in the allowable catch for "main basin" salmon, referring to most of the salmon in the Baltic, for 2013.
That followed the agreement by European Union ministers for a cut of 51 percent for 2012.
The Gulf of Finland salmon limit, covering a much smaller area, would be kept steady for a second consecutive year.
"The Commission has followed scientific advice for some species, but for salmon the level is double that recommended by scientists," Saskia Richartz, Greenpeace's EU oceans policy director, said.
"It's doubly bad. It's too high and it risks undermining efforts by some countries to address concerns raised by scientists that we might lose some of the populations altogether."
The total allowable catch for Gulf of Finland salmon is steady at 15,419 pieces, according to the Commission proposals for how 2013 limits should compare with those for this year.
For main basin salmon, the 11 percent cut to 108,762 pieces still leaves the allowable catch at about double the "not more than 54,000" recommended in a May report by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, an inter-governmental organization concerned with marine and fisheries science.
Whatever the Commission proposes is only the beginning of a debate, which later this year will involve representatives of member states. Fisheries debates are typically heated as EU fisheries ministers seek to weaken Commission proposals.
The Commission's stated aim is to ensure sustainable fishing that allows species to breed to their maximum potential.
Apart from the salmon proposal, it is also putting forward so far uncontested limits that would allow Baltic Sea fishermen to catch more sprats, Central and Western herring and plaice.
"The cuts in TACs (total allowable catches) in previous years proved effective," the Commission said in a statement.
No-one from the Commission was immediately available for further comment.
(Reporting by Barbara Lewis; Editing by Pravin Char)