The European Commission has proposed sweeping cuts in prawn and cod quotas in the Irish Sea.
However, it also suggests a rise in Irish Sea herring quotas and for the total allowable catch for plaice to stay the same.
Fishermen have branded the proposals an “absurd” approach to several months of talks which will culminate in a deal the week before Christmas.
The Commission plans a 16% drop in the prawn quota and a 25% cut in cod.
Fisheries Minister Michelle O‘Neill said she had discussed the proposals with the fishing industry and agreed main areas that need to be worked on.
“Nephrops (prawns) is once again our top priority,” she said.
“The Commission has now proposed an amendment to this year’s Irish Sea herring quota that will result in an in-year increase of 10%. Although this will be reduced slightly for 2013 the effect is an overall increase this year and next year.”
In December last year a deal was made with the EC that in return for the prawn fleet using highly selective gear, they would get an exemption from days at sea restrictions, but fishermen say this deal has yet to be delivered.
Anglo-North Irish Fish Producers Organisation (ANIFPO) chief executive Alan McCulla said: “We've had a series of meetings with DARD and minister O'Neill this week on these issues and I hope that as we get into the detail of the quota negotiations we will end up with a satisfactory outcome for the fishing industry at sea and onshore”.
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