These were the first shots fired in the annual battle between Brussels and the fishing industry on foot of the proposals for the total allowable catch for over 70 species in EU waters.
Cod recovery has been so successful in some parts of the Atlantic and North Sea that fishermen will be allowed to catch more than double the quantity next year compared to this year in certain areas, including the Celtic Sea.
However, the commission proposes to stop cod fishing in the Irish Sea, off the west of Scotland and the Kattegat between Denmark and Sweden, because stocks are in a poor state despite successive fishing cuts in recent years.
Irish fishermen are particularly incensed over plans to cut catches of hake and a range of other fish by up to 25% on the basis that the commission does not have sufficient information about their state.
Lorcan Ó Cinnéide, the head of the Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation, said they do not accept that the proposed cuts are based on scientific advice.
“It’s the commission’s interpretation of the advice and it’s a subjective and somewhat perverse way of interpreting it.
“Cutting quota because they do not have enough knowledge about the species is not good enough — we are going to pay because of this lack of knowledge.
“We cannot accept this outlandish approach that amounts to indiscriminate action. There are hundreds of livelihoods depending on these decisions.”
Proposals to cut catches of hake and prawns were ridiculous, Mr Ó Cinnéide said, as fishermen knew that the waters off the south and west coast of Ireland were awash with hake this year. Their experience also showed that prawns were in a healthy state.
The commission proposes the total allowable catch for nine stocks in various areas would be increased. These are some stocks of cod, anglerfish, herring, haddock, hake, sole, megrim and Norway lobster.
But for 53 other stocks, the catch would be reduced by a total of 11% by weight compared to 2011.
Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki said: “Our proposals cornerstones are long-term management of stocks and reliable scientific data to base our decision on.”
The fishing industry is to meet Fisheries Minister Simon Coveney and scientific experts today during which Mr Ó Cinnéide said they will discuss the latest proposals.
They will be discussed by all the EU’s fisheries ministers at their meeting in November and a final decision on the total catch will be made at the December meeting.