Commission seeks to balance sustainability with stability in setting next year's catch limits.
The commission has opened talks on 2011 fishing quotas with a report setting out what its priorities will be in proposing catch limits.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki supports a tougher approach amid concerns that current fishing levels are too high to sustain stocks. "I want to be clear that the quota levels set must respect all the European Union's commitments to sustainability," she said.
The report says the EU will also try to avoid unnecessary quota changes.
EU countries agreed in 2002 to return to sustainable catches by 2015. But about 90% of stocks are still overfished. Fishing nations continue to catch about 34% more than scientists say is sustainable.
Every year EU fisheries ministers set catch limits for the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and the North-East Atlantic, including the North Sea. The commission proposes the quotas based on scientific advice on the state of the stocks concerned.
The report coincided with the pilot launch of an online atlas that provides detailed information on Europe's seas and oceans. Also this week, the Spanish city of Gijon is hosting a high-level conference on maritime affairs. The meeting on 18-21 May is one of about 40 events held across the EU to mark European maritime day.
The EU boasts some 70 000 km of coastline divided among 22 countries. Maritime regions are home to about 40% of the population - roughly 200 million people - and generate about 40% of the EU's gross domestic product through fishing and activities like port operations, shipping and tourism.