EU ministers reached a landmark deal Friday on saving cod and other endangered species from extinction starting 2004, in a move that marks a sea change in existing EU fishery policies. The agreement, which for the first time involves long-time measures on protecting cod and hake and raising their stocks, is in response to studies by environmentalists who have been warning for years that the fish species will be wiped out through over-fishing if the EU doesn’t take drastic action. But the deal has run into criticism by fishing lobbies, who say it leaves fishermen out in the cold. EU Fisheries Minister Franz Fischler tried to soften the blow. "The coming years will not be easy for some fishermen. But the long-term recovery plans do give fishermen prospects for the future. EU funding is available to act as a social shock absorber," Fischler told a news conference. "We also took account of social aspects. We are talking about thousands of families who live from the fishing sector and depend on it. It is not necessary for us to close whole areas."