Fishing leaders have warned European proposals to close cod grounds around Scotland are out of date.
Fishing leaders say the industry does not want to see fishing grounds closed
The European Commission (EC) wants to close depleted cod fishing grounds around Scotland under new measures announced in Brussels on Wednesday.
It says that will conserve fish stocks and keep the Scots fleet in business.
But the Scottish White Fish Producers' Association and the Scottish Executive claim the plans have been overtaken by the EC's own scientific department.
The commission has proposed the closure of dangerously depleted cod grounds in the North Sea, Irish Sea and off the west of Scotland.
Fishing fleets will be asked to make reductions in their catch of up to 34% for cod, 27% for mackerel and 60% for herring.
But association chairman Mike Park claimed that following last month's quota deal with non-EU member Norway, commission scientists now thought closed areas were not required.
Mr Park, who is in Brussels, said: "There are a lot of things here that are out of date.
"And, as far as the closures are concerned, their (the EC) own scientific department has said over the last two to three weeks that they don't think that is required.
"So we have got to keep our eye on the ball here.
"It's a dated paper and we've got to make sure that the next paper falls into line with what the industry thinks is sensible."
He said his members could live with quotas but not with the proposed closure of certain particularly depleted areas.
This year, he said, Scottish fishermen had been able to take only 75% of their permitted catch - and the new closures would make the situation even worse.
He added that if the proposals were passed they could also displace the fishing of healthy stocks such as haddock.
Meanwhile, Fisheries Minister Ross Finnie reiterated the Scottish Executive's opposition to closing areas to fishing activity.
Mr Finnie said: "The executive is committed to developing sustainable and healthy fisheries to secure a healthy future for our industry and fishing communities.
"However, proposals on closed areas have already been overtaken by the advice from the commission's own technical advisers and fly in the face of representations by the newly formed North Sea Regional Advisory Council.
"We will always take account of scientific advice on threatened stocks while pushing for greater opportunities to fish healthy stocks.
"There is no case for this closed area and we will oppose it unreservedly."
Opposition parties joined Mr Finnie in shooting down the EC's proposals.
Conservative fisheries spokesman Ted Brocklebank said: "These latest proposed cuts are totally unacceptable, particularly since they are based on outdated science.
"Ross Finnie must totally resist these proposals and live up to his boast that he will secure a sustainable and healthy future for our industry and fishing communities from the forthcoming negotiations."
Liberal Democrat Euro MP Elspeth Attwooll, in Brussels, added: "Once again, the commission has come forward with a proposal affecting the lives of many people and the sustainability of several fish stocks that does not pay adequate attention to the impact of existing measures."
Scottish National Party (SNP) fisheries spokesman Richard Lochhead attacked the proposals as
"barmy", saying Scotland's fishing communities were fed up with the CFP's "annual torture", running up to Christmas.
He said: "The size of the Scots white fish fleet has been cut in half, as has the time they are allowed to spend at sea.
"Some white fish stocks like haddock are at record levels with rollover quotas even proposed for troubled cod stocks, yet the Brussels bureaucrats want even tougher measures than last year."
However, the Greens said closed areas could aid fish stock recovery.
Marine environment spokesman Robin Harper said: "Mr Finnie appears to be playing politics with the environment and with the future of communities who are dependent on the recovery of fish stocks.
"There is ample evidence that closed areas can and do work, the missing link is the political will to make them happen and to support fisheries-dependent communities at the same time.
"More pressure on fish is the last thing that is needed.
"The pressure needs to be placed on government to provide more investment in the people and communities while stocks recover."
Striking a balance
The EC said it had sought to strike a balance between what is biologically necessary for the fishing stocks and economically reasonable for the fishing fleet in its proposals.
This meant it decided not to adopt recommendations by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (Ices) which called for a total ban on cod fishing in the seas around Scotland in 2005.
The commissioner for fisheries and maritime affairs, Joe Borg, said Ices scientists had not taken into account the tough restrictions already in place in these regions which had already affected the Scottish fishing fleet.
European fisheries ministers will decide on next year's fishing quotas at a meeting from 20 to 23 December in Brussels.