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Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue has announced the establishment of a Common Fisheries Policy Review Group to examine issues pertinent to Ireland and the fishing sector in the next review of the CFP by the European Commission, scheduled to be completed at the end of this year.

Chaired by John Malone, former Secretary General of the Department of Agriculture, the group will have a steering committee comprising Micheal O’Cinneide, former director of the Marine Institute and Environmental Protection Agency, and Mr Donal Maguire, former director in Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

The group will involve representatives of stakeholders including producer organisations, the National Inshore Fisheries Forum, the aquaculture and seafood processing industries and co-ops. It will also include representatives of environmental NGOs.

Its purpose is to examine the issues that arise for Ireland in the context of the CFP review, to advise the minister on priorities for the negotiations and to identify strategies most likely to influence the outcome of the review.

The minister will ask the group, in making its recommendations, to focus on supporting the social and economic health of Ireland’s fisheries-dependant coastal communities, economic development in the seafood sector, delivering long-term sustainability of fish stocks and maximising protection of habitats and the marine environment.

Announcing the review group today, Wednesday 9 February, Minister McConalogue said: “This forum will be able to draw on the expertise in my own department, the Marine Institute and BIM, to provide the necessary policy, scientific and technical support.

“I am very pleased that John Malone has agreed to chair this group and that he will be ably supported by Micheal O’Cinneide and Donal Maguire on the steering committee. I have asked BIM to provide the secretariat to the group and to engage Michael Keatinge, retired BIM deputy CEO and an expert in fisheries analysis, to act as rapporteur drafting the report of the group.”

The minister added: “The seafood sector has faced challenges over the recent past, arising in particular from Brexit. The work of the Seafood Task Force — Navigating Change — focused on the implications of Brexit and recommended 16 separate support schemes at a total estimated cost of €423 million.

“I am, in a structured way, progressing the implementation of those recommendations. A voluntary whitefish tie-up scheme has already been implemented, a Brexit Adjustment Scheme for the inshore fisheries sector is also operating and other schemes are being finalised.

“The Taskforce Report also identified opportunities to help address the unequal burden sharing in the EU/UK agreement, that resulted in Ireland carrying an unequal and unfair burden of EU fish quota transfers to the UK. I am actively pursuing every opportunity at EU level to address the issues.

“Now it is timely to place the focus on the EU Common Fisheries Policy and with the assistance of this review group, to prepare Ireland’s case and priorities for the upcoming EU review.”

The European Commission has launched an online questionnaire as part of its public consultation on the preparation of this report. The commission has stated its intention to close its consultation process with a stakeholder event before the summer of 2022.

The minister has asked the review group to complete its work by June to ensure that Ireland’s priorities are clearly set out and inputted into the formal commission process.

Minister McConalogue said that he is issuing invitations to the relevant stakeholder organisations for nominations to the group and expects it to get to work once all nominations are in place.

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The European Commission has put forward a “concrete and specific package of measures” to ensure Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) compliance that will see some Irish fishing fleet quotas slashed by thousands of tonnes, as The Irish Times reports.

The move announced today (Monday 15 February) follows a formal inquiry into the State’s application of CFP rules, the findings of which were delivered to Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue before Christmas.

It’s understood that overfishing of quotas for mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting between 2012 and 2016 will be subject to a “payback procedure” in future quotas.

And weighing of catches will now have to be done upon landing at the quayside instead of later in processing facilities, after investigators found suspected incidences of tampering with weights in a 2018 audit.

The State’s failure to implement the penalty points system for CFP infringements is also the subject of infringement proceedings by Brussels.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

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The first and second leg of 2020’s Irish Anglerfish and Megrim Survey will be carried out from next weekend off the West, South West and South Coasts of Ireland by the Marine Institute, in fulfilment of Ireland’s Common Fisheries Policy obligations.

As with previous years, IAMS 2020 — which will run from Sunday 23 February to Wednesday 18 March — is a demersal trawl survey consisting of approximately 110 otter trawls (60 minutes) in ICES areas 7b, 7c, 7g, 7h, 7j and 7k.

The survey will be conducted by the RV Celtic Explorer (Callsign: EIGB) which will be towing a Jackson demersal trawl during fishing operations and will display appropriate lights and signals.

Commercial fishing and other marine operators are requested to keep a three-nautical-mile radius area around the tow points (indicated below) clear of any gear or apparatus during the survey period outlined above.

Further details of the survey, including co-ordinates of the survey stations, are included in Marine Notice No 07 of 2020, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

IAMS 2020 survey stations

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The Government have authorised the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to arrange for the referral of the General Scheme of the Sea-Fisheries (Amendment) Bill 2020 to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine for pre-legislative scrutiny prior to its submission to the Office of Parliamentary Counsel for drafting.

The main purpose of the proposed legislative amendments is to provide for a points system for masters (skippers) of fishing vessels for serious infringements of the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy, as required by EU Council Regulation 1224/2009.

The draft amending legislation would resolve some typographical errors in the Sea-fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act 2006 and introduce other miscellaneous and technical amendments.

The General Scheme has been published on the Department’s website and submitted to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine for pre-legislative scrutiny.

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Marine Minister Michael Creed last week welcomed agreement reached between the European Union, Norway, the Faroe Islands and Iceland regarding the blue whiting fishery for 2020.

“This agreement provides welcome stability in this important fishery for Irish fishermen,” he said in London last Friday (25 October).

“There will be a small increase compared to 2019 with a quota of approximately 38,500 tonnes in 2020 for Ireland.”

The total allowable catch of 1,161,616 tonnes agreed between the parties is fully in line with the scientific advice provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES).

Minister Creed added: “In these uncertain times, stability for our fisheries sector is always welcome.

“The agreement reached following the negotiations this week, in which Ireland was an active participant, will provide a quota worth approximately €11.5 million for our fishermen next year.

“This follows the international negotiations two weeks ago which agreed to a 41% increase in the mackerel quotas for 2020 in line with the scientific advice, giving Ireland a mackerel quota of over 78,000 tonnes worth over €80m directly to our catching sector for 2020.”

The minster also acknowledged the assistance provided on the Irish delegation by the Marine Institute and fishing sector representatives.

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The annual Anglerfish and Megrim Survey has begun off the West South West and South Coasts of Ireland in fulfilment of Ireland’s Common Fisheries Policy obligations.

The purpose of this project is to carry out annual survey for relative annual abundance and distribution of anglerfish and megrim. However, other species of national
importance will also be sampled, along with physical and chemical oceanographic parameters.

IAMS 2019 runs till Monday 25 March. The demersal trawl survey consists of around 110 otter trawls (of 60 minutes each) in ICES areas 7b, 7c, 7g, 7h, 7j and 7k as indicated the map below.

MN 06 of 2019 IAMS 2019

Fishing in 2019 will take place within a three-nautical-mile radius of all positions indicated.

The survey will be conducted by the RV Celtic Explorer (Callsign: EIGB). The vessel will display all appropriate lights and signals during the survey and will also be listening on VHF Channel 16. The vessel will be towing a Jackson demersal trawl during fishing operations.

Commercial fishing and other marine operators are requested to keep a 3nm area around the tow points clear of any gear or apparatus during the survey period. For more details see Marine Notice No 6 of 2019, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

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#Fishing - The European Union, Norway and the Faroe Islands have agreed to a 20% reduction in mackerel quotas in the North East Atlantic for 2019.

The news for Ireland’s single most valuable fishery was the outcome of international fisheries negotiations which concluded in Bergen, Norway yesterday (Thursday 29 November).

Marine Minister Michael Creed — who described the negotiations, which also took place in Clonakilty earlier this month, as “challenging” — added: “The reductions reflect the available scientific advice that the abundance of this stock has declined. This level of reduction is seen by all parties as essential to ensure that the stock is fished sustainably.”

The minister also confirmed that agreement was reached on a two-year extension of the sharing arrangement between the three main parties. “This provides a welcome degree of stability for this hugely important fishery. Irish fishermen will now have a quota worth over €55m directly to our catching sector for 2019,” he said.

“While the quota for Ireland is less than that of recent years, those quotas were unusually high by historical standards. The quota of 55,000 tonnes achieved today is in line with our historical average quota.

“We must continue to be cautious with this crucially important stock. As always, industry representatives, in particular Sean O’Donoghue of the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation, were extremely helpful to the Irish negotiating team.”

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Marine Minister Michael Creed welcomed today’s (Wednesday 7 November) resumption on Wednesday of important international negotiations on 2019 mackerel quotas for the stock in the North East Atlantic.

The negotiations, involving 11 EU and non-EU countries, are being hosted on behalf of the EU by the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine in the National Seafood Centre in Clonakilty, Co Cork and follow on from an initial round of negotiations in London in October.

“Mackerel is our single most important fishery economically and the negotiations this year are especially challenging given that the new scientific advice is for a reduction in quotas of 61%,” Minister Creed said.

“There are concerns from the scientific community about the quality of that advice but we need to take full account of all of the available information, the sustainability of the stock and the socio-economic importance of the mackerel fishery to peripheral coastal communities.

“These negotiations will be very difficult. The proposed 61% cut in the mackerel quota for 2019 would be very significant for our fishing industry along the western seaboard, particularly in Donegal, Galway, Kerry and Cork.

“Ireland is committed to the long-term sustainability of this stock and has worked hard to date to get a more graduated response to the scientific advice, taking account of the fact that this will be subject to a full review and quality assurance early in early 2019.”

Delegations from Ireland, the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Greenland and the Faeroe Islands will try and reach an agreement on the total allowable catch (TAC) for mackerel for 2019.

Up to 50 international delegates are expected in West Cork for the three-day negotiations. Officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, supported by scientists from the Marine Institute, will represent Ireland at these negotiations.

Minister Creed added: “I am pleased that Ireland, on behalf of the EU, is hosting this second round of Mackerel negotiations in the National Seafood Centre in Clonakilty. The fact that these negotiations are being facilitated by my department in Ireland underlines the economic importance of this stock to the Irish fishing industry.

“Mackerel is the single most valuable stock for the Irish fleet, and indeed the EU as a whole, and it is very much in our interests that we secure agreement at international level on management arrangements and catch levels for this stock.”

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#Fishing - Marine Minister Michael Creed noted yesterday’s (Thursday 17 May) issue by the EU Commission of a Letter of Formal Notice as a first step in formal infringement proceedings being taken against Ireland for not implementing the new penalty points systems for sea fishing boat skippers and license holders.

The EU provisions for points for skippers is general in nature and requires primary legislation, while the provisions for licence holders are set down in detail in the EU Regulations and may be implemented by means of secondary legislation through a Statutory Instrument.

In relation to the points system for licence holders, on 20 March this year Minister Creed signed into law the European Union (Common Fisheries Policy) (Point System) Regulations 2018 (SI No 89 of 2018), which establishes a point system that will apply to the licence holder of a sea fishing boat when a serious infringement of the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy is detected within Ireland’s 200-mile exclusive fishery zone by all fishing vessels, both Irish and foreign.

This Statutory Instrument replaces a previous regime which was struck down by the Supreme Court following a successfully challenge by the fishing industry.

“The new SI has taken on board the Supreme Court judgements and also satisfies Ireland’s legal obligations under the Common Fisheries Policy and will address the infringement proceedings issued by the EU Commission on this matter today,” Minister Creed said.

In addition, the minister intends to submit in the near future a Memorandum to Government seeking approval for the drafting of a bill to provide for inter alia the separate EU points system for skippers, and forward the general scheme for consideration to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine in the context of pre-legislative scrutiny.

Noting the receipt of the EU Commission’s formal notice, the minister said it “indicates that Ireland has two months to submit observations and I look forward to furnishing the commission with a detailed response advising that a system applying points to licence holders has been put in place already, and that I am working to introduce primary legislation in respect of masters of fishing vessels as a matter of urgency.”

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#MarineNotice - The Marine Institute’s annual Irish Anglerfish and Megrim Survey (IAMS) for 2018 is scheduled to resume today, Tuesday 10 April.

After January's survey off the West and South Coasts, this month's survey will be carried out till Saturday 21 April off the North and North West Coasts of Ireland in fulfilment of Ireland’s Common Fisheries Policy obligations.

The IAMS is a demersal trawl survey consisting of approximately 50 otter trawls of 60 minutes duration in ICES area 6a. Fishing will take place within a three nautical mile radius of the positions indicated in Marine Notice No 15 of 2018, a PDF of which is available to read or download HERE.

Survey operations will be conducted by the RV Celtic Explorer (Callsign EIGB), which will display all appropriate lights and signals during the survey and will also be listening on VHF Channel 16.

The vessel will be towing a Jackson demersal trawl during fishing operations. The Marine Institute requests that commercial fishing and other marine operators keep a three nautical mile area around the tow points clear of any gear or apparatus during the survey period outlined above.

Specifics of any fishing gear or other obstructions that are known and cannot be kept clear of these survey haul locations can be notified using the contact details provided in the Marine Notice.

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