Following the conclusion of 2019 Annual Fisheries Negotiations at 3.00am this morning (Wednesday) Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., confirmed the deal negotiated is a balanced outcome, delivering on sustainability objectives and ensuring a strong result for fishermen, against the challenging backdrop of Brexit.
2019 will see the full implementation of the landing obligation or ‘discards ban’, where the practice of discarding juvenile fish at sea will end. The application of the landing obligation or ‘discards ban’ for all Irish stocks in 2019, coupled with a move towards fishing at maximum sustainable yield levels (rebuilding stocks to a sustainable optimum), are very positive developments for fishermen and for the broader goal of sustainability.
"2019 will see the end of the practice of discarding juvenile fish at sea"
Minister Creed said today; “My primary ambition at these negotiations was to set quotas for Irish fishermen that will support the livelihoods of fishermen and at the same time respect the scientific advice for stocks. The particular challenge facing the fishing industry from the beginning of 2019 is landing all catches and ending discarding of fish at sea. Our fishing industry has been fully supportive of the new policy while seeking to find solutions that will allow fishermen to continue viable and sustainable fisheries. I am satisfied that the package agreed today delivers a balanced deal on quotas.”
The final deal negotiated provides for maintenance of quotas year on year, with an increase in value to €260m. In addition, the Commission agreed to a practical and sustainable approach in relation to key stocks impacted by the discards ban. The revised quotas will assist in delivering on the discards ban while maintaining all of our fisheries open throughout 2019.
For a number of important fish stocks there were significant increases in quota. The Minister said that; “I was pleased that the scientific advice supported large increases in a number of stocks of importance, for South and South Western ports, such as Haddock (+20%), Hake (+28%) and Megrims (+47%) in the Celtic Sea. The overall increase of 30% in whitefish quota, including offshore Haddock (+92%), for the North West will provide improved fishing opportunities for whitefish fishermen in Donegal. The increases in Haddock (+20%) and Cod (+16%) in the Irish Sea reflects the continuing regeneration of these stocks.”
Minister Creed said; “We knew coming into these negotiations that, in line with the scientific advice, some substantial cuts would be necessary to protect some of our key fisheries such as herring, mackerel and prawns. To their credit, the Irish fishing industry accepted that these cuts were necessary. In the interests of sustainability, we accepted a cut to our prawn quota of 32%, which reflects the scientific advice.”
Concluding, Minister Creed said; “This was a very challenging and complex negotiation. Some of the Commission’s quota proposals this year would, in my view, have run the risk of closing sustainable fisheries by creating a ‘race to fish’ and exhausting quotas for important fish stocks in the Celtic sea, Irish Sea and the waters off Donegal. That risk has been averted.
I believe that, on balance, it is a sustainable and viable package. 2019 will be a challenging year for the Irish fishing industry, not least with the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit, but I believe that this agreement on quotas will help us all to face those challenges head on.”