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The European Union and Norway, joint managers of North Sea cod stocks, have agreed to ban all cod fishing in the spawning area of the North Sea for at least six months in order to preserve seriously depleted stocks of the fish. The area, bound by  Scotland, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands, will be open to pelagic fishermen but they will be subject to strict reporting requirements and will be under close scrutiny from observers on board vessels. The Commission will make proposals for longer-term measures to help the recovery of cod in the North Sea later in the year.

By Alan Osborn, correspondent