The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., today secured 233,500 tonnes of quotas worth €280 million for Irish fishermen for 2017. This represents an increase of 17,390 tonnes over 2016. The Minister secured the deal in the early hours of Wednesday morning following two days of intensive negotiations at the annual Fisheries Council in Brussels.
Commenting on the Commission package agreed by Member States, including Ireland, the Minister said “This is a balanced package for the Irish fishing industry. I am satisfied that I have managed to turn an extremely worrying set of proposals from the Commission into a much improved outcome for the Irish fishing industry. I am especially pleased that the quotas agreed respects the scientific advice ensuring that the fish stocks in our waters will be managed sustainably.”
The Minister said "The total €280m value of quotas, which represents a 6% increase on 2016, is a good result overall and is a long way from the original Commission proposals which would have resulted in very significant losses to our fleet. The original proposal included a 19% reduction in whitefish quotas.”
The Minster said "I am particularly pleased to have persuaded the Commission to reverse the proposed 9% cut in the prawn quota, the most important fishery for the whitefish fleet. We succeeded in getting the Commission to apply the appropriate scientific advice for prawns resulting in a 9% increase. This was my number one priority heading into these negotiations and I am very happy with the result”.
The specific quota details negotiated by Minister Creed include:
For the South and West coasts and the Irish Sea, a 9% increase in the €74 million prawn fishery which benefits the ports of Clogherhead, Howth, Union Hall, Castletownbere, Dingle and Ros a Mhil.
For the South West, a 9% increase in hake, reversal of cuts proposed for monkfish - important for the southern ports of Castletownbere and Dingle.
For the Celtic Sea fisheries: 21% increase in whiting (from a possible 27% cut); 7 % increase in haddock, 15% cut in cod (reduced from the 68% proposed cut).
For the Irish Sea, a 25% increase in haddock; retention of cod and sole quotas.
In the North West, a 20% increase in monkfish quota; a 9% increase for the megrim quota, a near doubling of the Rockall haddock quota and no change in whiting benefiting the ports of Greencastle and Killybegs.
Cuts in line with scientific advice were applied to haddock in the North West and megrim in the Celtic Sea.
The Minister explained "The most difficult area coming into these negotiations was the Commission proposal for cod and whiting in the Celtic Sea. The proposal was for a -68% cut on cod and a -27% cut in whiting. Whilst the scientific advice on cod in the Celtic sea is worrying, the scientific advice on whiting in the Celtic sea is positive. I am satisfied that the final outcome of a -15% cut in the cod quota and a 21% increase in the whiting quota was the most positive that could have been achieved. The impact of the cut in cod quota for Ireland, is substantially reduced through the application of the Hague Preferences*”.
On Mackerel, the Minster said that “Overall I am very satisfied with the increase in the quota allocation for our single most valuable fishery, Mackerel, which will have a value of €86m in 2017.
Minister Creed concluded "In 2017 we will now have a significant increase for our vitally important whitefish fisheries and stability for many of our valuable stocks around our coast. This will ensure the continued vibrancy of our industry and the long term sustainability of our stocks”.