The European Commission has asked European Union (EU) ministers to extend until 2006 a scheme allowing fish to be imported into the EU at low or zero duties, covering species that are too scarce in Europe’s seas to meet local demand.

The exemptions were established in 2001 and now the Commission wants to continue them until December 2006. A Brussels note said that they had been designed to allow food manufacturers “to plan the supplies they need without disrupting the revenues of EU producers.”

Fish and fish products covered by the scheme include cod, squid, herring, tuna, shrimp, hake, blue grenadier, whiting, Alaska pollack, anchovies and surimi.