Three-quarters of fish stocks in Irish waters are being harvested beyond safe limits, experts warned today.
Cod numbers are continuing to plummet and are dangerously low due to over-fishing and now whiting and tuna stocks are under severe threat from commercial boats.
The EPA's state-of-the-environment report, entitled 'Ireland's Environment 2008', warned that tough restrictions are needed to protect stocks in the long-term, such as closing spawning grounds for several years.
Whiting is said to be in severe decline with the total catch in 2006 reportedly 100 times lower than the 1980s.
"Many aspects of Ireland's flora and fauna remain under serious threat from human activities leading to, often irreversible, losses – once this asset is gone, there is no comeback," the EPA report said.
Experts warned that a recovery plan put in place eight years ago involving the closure of spring spawning grounds failed to boost cod stock levels.
They have been on the brink of collapse for many years due to over-fishing since the 1980s.