The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, today expressed concern at proposals for some of Ireland’s key fisheries quotas, ahead of annual EU Fisheries negotiations in Brussels next week. The Minister said that the rolling out of the new discards ban for a number of Irish stocks added to the complexities of this year’s negotiations.
Minister Coveney said today that “Some of the proposals for stocks of great importance to Irish fleets are unnecessarily restrictive in my view and do not reflect scientific advice. We must set quotas that support sustainable fish stocks and I will support cuts where the scientific advice is clear that that is the right thing to do. The Commission is proposing a 43% and 27% cut to our cod and haddock quotas in the Celtic Sea, these stocks are stable and cuts of this magnitude are not justified. Other serious cuts are proposed for our very valuable prawn quota which is not supported by the scientific advice and for whitefish quotas in the Irish Sea. We must set quotas that support sustainable fish stocks and I will support cuts where the scientific advice is clear that that is the right thing to do. I will be making a strong case next week to Commissioner Vella to make significant changes to these quota proposals. ”.
The Minister added that “There is an added complexity to this year’s negotiations as the new landing obligation for certain stocks will apply from the 1st of January 2016. During the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, brokered by Ireland, I was a strong advocate of a phased introduction of discards ban to end the wasteful practice of discarding high volumes of fish at sea. As part of that Reform, it was also agreed that quotas would be adjusted upwards for stocks covered by discards ban to take account of the new situation that all catches must now be landed. It is vital that this ‘uplift’ in quotas is fully applied to the stocks that come under the discards ban in 2016, to support its practical implementation.”
In 2016 Irish fisheries covered by discards ban include prawns, whiting in the Celtic Sea and Haddock in the Irish Sea and the area west of Scotland.
Minister Coveney concluded by saying that “I am meeting our industry representatives this evening in advance of Council and I also intend to meet other stakeholders on margin of the Council to get a full understanding of priorities. During the Council I will keep the industry representatives and other stakeholders fully up to date on progress and developing issues.”
The Annual Fisheries negotiations to decide on quotas for 2016 takes place on the 14th and 15th of December in Brussels.