The minister brought forward the proposals at the third National Inshore Fisheries Forum (NIFF) meeting, where he announced the introduction of an outtake limit for fishing razor clams in the North Irish Sea of 700kg per vessel per week to take effect from Monday 1 June 2015.
Speaking about the new measures, Minister Coveney said: “At the second NIFF meeting in April, I stated that I would take steps to secure the sustainability of the razor clam fishery, and the new interim measures for the North Irish Sea are a first step in that process.
"I am also conscious that certainty about safe, high quality Irish seafood is important for consumers and for the marketplace. Accordingly, I have decided to introduce national measures to ensure Ireland can demonstrate its commitment to safe seafood.”
The new national measures include:
- Obligations to weigh and report all razor clam landings,
- A requirement to ensure fishing takes place only in shellfish production areas which have been classified for razor clams
- A requirement to fish in only one class of shellfish production area, from a seafood safety perspective, per day, and
- An obligation for vessels in Irish waters to carry GPS tracking equipment from 20 July.
The protection of Natura 2000 sites also featured on the agenda at Tuesday’s meeting, and the minister welcomed support from the NIFF to facilitate stakeholder engagement in preparing mitigation plans for sites with features at risk from certain fishing activities.
“There are features in a number of Natura 2000 sites which are particularly sensitive to certain fishing activities, and we must ensure that the integrity of these Special Areas of Conservation is protected," the minister said.
"Protecting the ecosystems of marine conservation sites preserves the quality of our marine environment and is another step towards harnessing our ocean wealth in a sustainable way.”
The NIFF has been set up to encourage inshore fishing communities to discuss their fishing issues and generate commonly-supported initiatives. Ciaran Quinn of the North West region is the first industry-led chair of the forum, and Eddie Moore of the South West region is the vice chair.
Lobster conservation measures and proposals to manage recreational pot fishing were among the other inshore policy issues discussed by the NIFF members at this week’s meeting.