These people are insane.
"Why did we introduce discards in the first place? The reason that we did that is that we knew that stocks were going down.
"We have seen a recovery in cod in the North Sea in particular. That is good news and that’s why we will pushing the commissioner in December for an increase."
He added: "We are confident we have a position that is backed up by science – that’s the crucial thing."
But environmentalists say increasing the quotas is exactly the wrong thing to do.
Oliver Knowles, a Greenpeace campaigner, said: "We think it would be madness to increase the cod quotas to try to remedy this problem.
"The solution to over-fishing lies in a much more wholesale review of the fishing industry.
"If stocks of cod in the North Sea are returning then it is at its very earliest stage and one way to destroy that recovery is to send the fishing fleet back."
UK vessels landed 614,000 tonnes of sea fish, including shellfish, in 2006, worth £610m, a 13 per cent reduction in quantity on 2005 but seven per cent up in value.
The number of young cod in the North Sea has risen for a second year in a row, but the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas has called for a 50-per-cent cut on 2006 catch levels to sustain it.
Euan Dunn, fisheries expert with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said: "The idea of calling for an increase in catches to reduce discards is so counter-productive.
"Massive efforts now have to be made to help the fragile 2005 year class survive to breed and fuel real recovery in the cod stock.
"The EU ministers’ focus now needs to be totally on how to prevent these discardable fish being caught in the first place, rather than giving the industry a licence to catch more. Responsible fishermen know this, but you can’t wake a man who’s pretending to be asleep."
All of them, entirely crazed.
Fisheries are not the most complex of problems. They’re a simple application of the Commons Problem. One which is, as we know, solved by apportioning property rights. Are they, in the face of this problem, suggesting the apportioning of property rights? No, they’re not, ergo they are crazed loons, all of them, the Commissioner, the Government, Greenpeace and the fishermen themselves.