BAGENKOP, Denmark — A stiff wind buffets Ulrik Koelle Hansen's trawler as he heads out of this tiny fishing village in search of an early morning catch, but it's nothing to the battering he predicts if the European Union slashes the fishing quota for cod in the western Baltic, as it did late Monday.

According to scientists and environmentalists, the region's cod stock is on the verge of collapse. While scientists are pushing for the quota to be cut by about 90 percent, conservation groups want to shut it down temporarily.

"If we do not do something in time to allow the cod to recover, it may mean that we lose the (cod) fishery altogether in the near future," said Inger Melander, a spokeswoman for the Swedish branch of the World Wildlife Fund.


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