The Irish Seal Sanctuary has called on the EU to assist fishermen in the switch to selective fishing gear to help restore viable stocks in Ireland's waters, the Irish Environment Network reports.
EU Commissioner Maria Damanaki had threatened to close the Irish Sea as well as seas off the west of Scotland if nothing is done to allow the drastically low stocks of cod to recover to a sustainable level.
But the sanctuary's Sea Fishery Advisory Group believes that trawling in the Irish Sea would only need to be suspended for a period long enough to allow one year's class of fish to mature and spawn.
“We do not seek a closure, as there are selective methods to catch prawns, which the smaller boats could easily use," said a spokesperson, who added that "many fishermen consider the Irish Sea, a relatively small shallow sea, an important spawning and nursery area for much of our national waters.
"Fish spawned in the Irish Sea could help repopulate the areas north and south of it, if they had the chance,” the spokesperson added.
The Irish Times reports that Commissioner Damanaki had upset the Irish fishing industry with her hard line proposals to slash quotas for cod in the Irish Sea and the west of Scotland and close those fishing areas by 2012.
The EU's annual negotiations on European fishing rights concluded this week with concessions that will see the industry as a whole face a 0.9% reduction in quota.