#Fishing - Marine Minister Michael Creed expressed his concern at the potential impact on Irelands’ whitefish fleet, ahead of the annual EU fisheries negotiations in Brussels, scheduled to conclude today (Tuesday 13 December).
“If the commission’s quota proposals remain unchanged, we are facing an overall 19% cut to our whitefish and prawn quotas for 2017,” said Minister Creed yesterday. “This would mean, in real terms, a direct income loss of over €14.7 million to our whitefish fleet.”
The commission’s proposal includes cuts to Celtic Sea cod (-68%), pollack (-20%), megrim (-28%), monkfish (-12%) and Ireland’s most important stock, prawns (-9%).
“I presented the scale and implications of these cuts to the joint Oireachtas Committee earlier this week following the completion of a Sustainability Impact Assessment which was open to public consultation,” the minister added.
“I also met the fishing industry and other stakeholders and got a detailed brief on the issues and priorities. I am very concerned about the level of cuts proposed for the whitefish and prawn fisheries. We need a balanced outcome that delivers necessary cuts to protect stocks while maintaining quota levels where justified.”
Minister Creed said his role at negotiations yesterday and today was “to persuade the commission to apply the available scientific advice in a rational and practical manner.
“This is especially important in the context of the ongoing roll out of the landing obligation, which will apply to all quota stocks from 2019.”
Ireland’s mackerel and blue whiting quotas are set for substantial increases, but this comes with cuts in horse mackerel, Celtic Sea herring and boarfish. The minister says he is accepting these quota adjustments because they are fully justified by the scientific advice.
“This is my first December Fisheries Council and I do not underestimate the challenge,” Minister Creed added. “All I can promise is that I will work as hard as I can with industry and other stakeholders, as well as with Commissioner Vella, and important member states such as France, the UK and Spain, to try and achieve a fair and balanced quota package for Ireland’s fishing industry that ensures the continued vibrancy of our industry and the long term sustainability of our stocks.”