Ireland has topped the league table of worst offenders for the promotion of overfishing in the North East Atlantic according to a new report.

The report - 'Landing the Blame' - was compiled by the New Economics Foundation, an independent organisation promoting economic well-being based in London.

It is aimed at uncovering the EU member states most responsible for setting fishing quotas above scientific advice.

The quotas are set annually each December at a closed door meeting of EU agriculture and fisheries ministers in Brussels attended by the Minister for Agriculture and the Marine Simon Coveney.

The report concluded that Minister Coveney negotiated the largest proportional increase in fishing quotas for Ireland above scientifically advised levels last December, with Ireland's quotas exceeding scientific advice by 25%.

Griffen Carpenter, the co-author of the report, said there is a lack of transparency around these closed-door negotiations and pressure should be placed on member states to recognise the benefits of following scientific advice and managing marine ecosystems in a sustainable manner.

According to environmentalists overfishing is harmful to the marine environment and threatens the long-term viability of the fishing sector.

It also contravenes the Common Fisheries Policy which set 2015, where possible, as the target date by which to end EU overfishing.

Research published by NEF earlier this year showed that the European Union would increase its fish catch by 2 million tonnes, raise an extra €1.6bn in revenues, and create over 20,000 jobs, by fishing sustainably and restoring fish stocks to maximum sustainable yield in line with the scientific advice.