SEA anglers are reeling at proposals that could slap strict restrictions on how much they catch.
Plans are being considered by European law chiefs which could mean sea fishermen have to apply for licences, and their catches count towards tight quotas currently reserved for commercial operations.
The European Commission says the recreational fishing sector is now so big that anglers can have a big impact on the numbers of endangered fish so it must be controlled.
They say the monitoring and control of all types of sea fishing need tightening up to protect fish stocks for the future.
But the Hartlepool Boatmen's Association, which has around 140 members, has cast doubt on the plans.
Association chairman Tug Wilson said: "They don't want recreational sea anglers at all. They are trying to say it is to help conservation, but I think they are just trying to kill all inshore fishing.
"One trawler off Aberdeen can catch 2,000 tonnes of cod a year and a third, which around 650 tonnes, will be thrown over the side.
"I can't see anglers in the whole of England catching 650 tonnes a year never mind anything else."
The proposals would require recreational anglers to apply for a licence for their boat and stop fishing when their quota has been reached. But Mr Wilson, 63, of Macaulay Road, Hartlepool, added: "Our members already pay around 2,000 to keep their boats moored in the marina.
"And how they are going to enforce it I haven't got a clue."
Joe Borg, European fisheries commissioner, said: "The future of sustainable fisheries requires us to replace a system which is inefficient, expensive and complex with one which can really produce results.
"I believe this proposal will give all the actors involved the tools to do the job."
It is believed anglers who fish from the shore would not be affected by the plans, but bosses at the Government's Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) are seeking more details.
A spokesman said: "This is one of a number of proposed changes by the European Commission which we need to examine carefully, and we are speaking to anglers."