European Union ministers have reached agreement in principle on catch limits in 2016 for leading commercial species of fish in the Baltic Sea — limits environmentalist said are too high in many cases.

The ministers reached the agreement Thursday night at a meeting in Luxembourg. In a statement, they said the limits take into account scientific advice as well as the EU's recently changed Common Fisheries Policy.

But Mike Walker, a spokesman for Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-governmental organization, said the limits, which concern 10 commercial fish stocks, exceed scientific recommendations in seven cases. Last year, Walker said, ministers exceeded scientists' recommendations in five cases.

Walker said "overfishing risks damaging fish stocks and threatening the livelihoods of fishermen."

The species concerned are herring, cod, plaice, Atlantic salmon and sprat.