POOR management of European fish stocks and fleet quotas is draining jobs and profits but the decline could be reversed, according to research by a think tank.

The report from the New Economics Foundation (NEF) argues the benefits of rebuilding stocks and of re-distributing fishing quotas to fleets that are more environmentally friendly and sustain more jobs.

It says that the current quota allocation is based on historic catch data, which typically benefits the largest and most environmentally damaging fleets. Redistribution according to different economic and environmental criteria, from job creation to fuel consumption, coupled with sustainable fisheries management, would deliver higher economic benefits.

In particular an additional 14,584 jobs could be created while saving 624,000 tonnes of carbon per year over the current, default allocation. Meanwhile giving more quota to those fleets that support more jobs per tonne of fish landed would deliver an additional 102,000 jobs over the current, default allocation.

But Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation, said: "This report is fantasy economics and totally fails to recognise the realities of fishing.

"Redistributing quota is a bit like saying to a farmer who has looked after his land and invested in his business over generations - thanks for all you have done and your stewardship of the land, but we are now going to take away your fields and give them over to allotment farmers."