Cod, or rather bacalao, is one of the Balearics' favourite fish, but under new European Union fishing cuts which are being thrashed out this week, the future of both cod and Balearic fishing fleets is looking extremely doubtful. In fact, the future of Europe's fishing industry is at stake as ministers meeting in Brussels discuss a European Union plan for drastic cuts in catches to save dwindling stocks, but Spanish fishermen are in danger of becoming the biggest victims of new European Union regulations. The European Commission wants to reduce catches of endangered species such as cod and haddock by up to 80% but the British government believes this would spell doom for its fishermen, as do its Spanish counterparts. Although haggling over fish quotas is an annual feature of EU debates, this year's talks threaten to be the most bitter and heated yet. Fishermen say hundreds of coastal communities would be hit, putting thousands of people out of work. The European Commission wants to decommission 8'600 boats by 2006 to achieve the 80% cut, which would mean that 28'000 jobs would be lost. The big problem is that European fishing fleets are being pushed round from east to west, with many Spanish fishermen forced to head into the Irish Sea and even further beyond into Canadian waters. One of the causes is Japanese fishing and illegal “pirate” Italian, French and Moroccan fleets hunting tuna and other fish in the Mediterranean - forcing fishing fleets to move on to other fishing areas. The Balearics' fleet have already been restricted to fishing just 80 days per year by existing EU rules and while there are concerns about fish stocks in northern European fishing grounds, similar concerns exist in the western Mediterranean. Yesterday in response to protests from Spain and France, the European Fisheries Commissioner, Franz Fischler, postponed any new moratorium until March in order to consider Spain's new proposal. Spain's Fisheries Minister, Miguel Arias Cañete, said yesterday that the European Union had finally admitted that the new proposals “discriminate against Spain, but it's probably a little to late,” he added.