Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Common Fisheries Policy Review Group Seen as a Response to Increased Pressure from Fishing Industry

10th February 2022
The Common Fisheries Policy has been blamed for causing severe damage to the Irish fishing industry, (including the fishery centre at Howth in County Dublin pictured above) because of the bigger size of quotas it allocated to foreign vessels in Irish waters, while keeping Irish quotas much smaller.
The Common Fisheries Policy has been blamed for causing severe damage to the Irish fishing industry, (including the fishery centre at Howth in County Dublin pictured above) because of the bigger size of quotas it allocated to foreign vessels in Irish waters, while keeping Irish quotas much smaller.

The announcement by Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue that he is establishing a Common Fisheries Policy Review Group is being seen as a response to increased pressure from the fishing industry for a strong level of preparation for changes in the CFP.

The Policy which has been blamed for causing severe damage to the Irish fishing industry, because of the bigger size of quotas it allocated to foreign vessels in Irish waters, while keeping Irish quotas much smaller.

The ten-year review of the CFP has to be completed by December 2022. However, this review does not imply major changes being made in the Policy.

In fact, on his visit to Ireland last October, EU Commissioner for Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius, said: “We’ll do a review, and we will be listening to stakeholders’ concerns, and we’ll look at certain changes, but I cannot promise we will be reopening the CFP.”

The general attitude in the Irish industry is that only a thorough review of the Policy can address the Irish fleet’s reduced access to quotas and the impact of Brexit, as well as the refusal of other EU countries to agree to “burden-sharing” of the Brexit impact. The initial response to the Minister’s announcement is that it is a “needed, welcome and positive move, needed to get a strong Irish position established about the CFP,” industry sources told Afloat.

"a forum of key stakeholders to produce a report to inform Ireland's position"

Commissioner Sinkevičius acknowledged that the review will have to take Brexit into account. He added that climate change, pollution and sustainable fishing would also be included.

EU Commissioner for Fisheries Virginijus SinkevičiusEU Commissioner for Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius

“The seafood sector has faced challenges over the recent past, arising in particular from Brexit,” said Minister McConalogue in announcing the Review Group. It will be, he said, “a forum of key stakeholders to produce a report to inform Ireland's position during the course of the CFP review. 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.”

It will be chaired by Mr John Malone, former Secretary General of the Department of Agriculture. Mr. Malone will be assisted by a steering committee comprising Mr Micheal O Cinneide, former Director of the Marine Institute and Environmental Protection Agency and Mr Donal Maguire, former Director in BIM.

The Group will involve representatives of stakeholders, including Producer Organisations, National Inshore Fisheries Forum, the Aquaculture industry, Co-Ops, and the Seafood processing industry. 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 is seeking from the Group recommendations in relation to the CFP Review, to focus on supporting the social and economic health of our fisheries dependant coastal communities, economic development in our sea-food sector, delivering long term sustainability of fish stocks and maximising protection of habitats and the marine environment.

The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) Regulation (Regulation EU 380/2013) provides that the European Commission will report to the European Parliament and the Council on the functioning of the CFP by the end of 2022. The European Commission has launched an online questionnaire as part of its public consultation on the preparation of this report. The Commission has stated that it intends 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 the Group to get to work once all nominations to the Group are in place.

Those being invited to be part of the Group have been named as:

  • Fishing and Aquaculture representatives - One representative each from: Irish South and East Fish Producers Organisation; Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation; Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation; Irish Fish Producers Organisation; Irish Islands Marine Resource Organisation;
  • National Inshore Forum; Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association; IFA Aquaculture.
  • Co-Ops: 2 representatives
  • Environmental NGOs: 2 representatives
Published in Fishing
Tom MacSweeney

About The Author

Tom MacSweeney

Email The Author

Tom MacSweeney writes a weekly column for Afloat.ie. He presents the monthly programme Maritime Ireland on Podcast services and Irish radio stations.

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading Afloat.ie than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open.

Afloat.ie is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

Irish Fishing industry 

The Irish Commercial Fishing Industry employs around 11,000 people in fishing, processing and ancillary services such as sales and marketing. The industry is worth about €1.22 billion annually to the Irish economy. Irish fisheries products are exported all over the world as far as Africa, Japan and China.

FAQs

Over 16,000 people are employed directly or indirectly around the coast, working on over 2,000 registered fishing vessels, in over 160 seafood processing businesses and in 278 aquaculture production units, according to the State's sea fisheries development body Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

All activities that are concerned with growing, catching, processing or transporting fish are part of the commercial fishing industry, the development of which is overseen by BIM. Recreational fishing, as in angling at sea or inland, is the responsibility of Inland Fisheries Ireland.

The Irish fishing industry is valued at 1.22 billion euro in gross domestic product (GDP), according to 2019 figures issued by BIM. Only 179 of Ireland's 2,000 vessels are over 18 metres in length. Where does Irish commercially caught fish come from? Irish fish and shellfish is caught or cultivated within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), but Irish fishing grounds are part of the common EU "blue" pond. Commercial fishing is regulated under the terms of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983 and with ten-yearly reviews.

The total value of seafood landed into Irish ports was 424 million euro in 2019, according to BIM. High value landings identified in 2019 were haddock, hake, monkfish and megrim. Irish vessels also land into foreign ports, while non-Irish vessels land into Irish ports, principally Castletownbere, Co Cork, and Killybegs, Co Donegal.

There are a number of different methods for catching fish, with technological advances meaning skippers have detailed real time information at their disposal. Fisheries are classified as inshore, midwater, pelagic or deep water. Inshore targets species close to shore and in depths of up to 200 metres, and may include trawling and gillnetting and long-lining. Trawling is regarded as "active", while "passive" or less environmentally harmful fishing methods include use of gill nets, long lines, traps and pots. Pelagic fisheries focus on species which swim close to the surface and up to depths of 200 metres, including migratory mackerel, and tuna, and methods for catching include pair trawling, purse seining, trolling and longlining. Midwater fisheries target species at depths of around 200 metres, using trawling, longlining and jigging. Deepwater fisheries mainly use trawling for species which are found at depths of over 600 metres.

There are several segments for different catching methods in the registered Irish fleet – the largest segment being polyvalent or multi-purpose vessels using several types of gear which may be active and passive. The polyvalent segment ranges from small inshore vessels engaged in netting and potting to medium and larger vessels targeting whitefish, pelagic (herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting) species and bivalve molluscs. The refrigerated seawater (RSW) pelagic segment is engaged mainly in fishing for herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting only. The beam trawling segment focuses on flatfish such as sole and plaice. The aquaculture segment is exclusively for managing, developing and servicing fish farming areas and can collect spat from wild mussel stocks.

The top 20 species landed by value in 2019 were mackerel (78 million euro); Dublin Bay prawn (59 million euro); horse mackerel (17 million euro); monkfish (17 million euro); brown crab (16 million euro); hake (11 million euro); blue whiting (10 million euro); megrim (10 million euro); haddock (9 million euro); tuna (7 million euro); scallop (6 million euro); whelk (5 million euro); whiting (4 million euro); sprat (3 million euro); herring (3 million euro); lobster (2 million euro); turbot (2 million euro); cod (2 million euro); boarfish (2 million euro).

Ireland has approximately 220 million acres of marine territory, rich in marine biodiversity. A marine biodiversity scheme under Ireland's operational programme, which is co-funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the Government, aims to reduce the impact of fisheries and aquaculture on the marine environment, including avoidance and reduction of unwanted catch.

EU fisheries ministers hold an annual pre-Christmas council in Brussels to decide on total allowable catches and quotas for the following year. This is based on advice from scientific bodies such as the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. In Ireland's case, the State's Marine Institute publishes an annual "stock book" which provides the most up to date stock status and scientific advice on over 60 fish stocks exploited by the Irish fleet. Total allowable catches are supplemented by various technical measures to control effort, such as the size of net mesh for various species.

The west Cork harbour of Castletownbere is Ireland's biggest whitefish port. Killybegs, Co Donegal is the most important port for pelagic (herring, mackerel, blue whiting) landings. Fish are also landed into Dingle, Co Kerry, Rossaveal, Co Galway, Howth, Co Dublin and Dunmore East, Co Waterford, Union Hall, Co Cork, Greencastle, Co Donegal, and Clogherhead, Co Louth. The busiest Northern Irish ports are Portavogie, Ardglass and Kilkeel, Co Down.

Yes, EU quotas are allocated to other fleets within the Irish EEZ, and Ireland has long been a transhipment point for fish caught by the Spanish whitefish fleet in particular. Dingle, Co Kerry has seen an increase in foreign landings, as has Castletownbere. The west Cork port recorded foreign landings of 36 million euro or 48 per cent in 2019, and has long been nicknamed the "peseta" port, due to the presence of Spanish-owned transhipment plant, Eiranova, on Dinish island.

Most fish and shellfish caught or cultivated in Irish waters is for the export market, and this was hit hard from the early stages of this year's Covid-19 pandemic. The EU, Asia and Britain are the main export markets, while the middle Eastern market is also developing and the African market has seen a fall in value and volume, according to figures for 2019 issued by BIM.

Fish was once a penitential food, eaten for religious reasons every Friday. BIM has worked hard over several decades to develop its appeal. Ireland is not like Spain – our land is too good to transform us into a nation of fish eaters, but the obvious health benefits are seeing a growth in demand. Seafood retail sales rose by one per cent in 2019 to 300 million euro. Salmon and cod remain the most popular species, while BIM reports an increase in sales of haddock, trout and the pangasius or freshwater catfish which is cultivated primarily in Vietnam and Cambodia and imported by supermarkets here.

The EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983, pooled marine resources – with Ireland having some of the richest grounds and one of the largest sea areas at the time, but only receiving four per cent of allocated catch by a quota system. A system known as the "Hague Preferences" did recognise the need to safeguard the particular needs of regions where local populations are especially dependent on fisheries and related activities. The State's Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, based in Clonakilty, Co Cork, works with the Naval Service on administering the EU CFP. The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and Department of Transport regulate licensing and training requirements, while the Marine Survey Office is responsible for the implementation of all national and international legislation in relation to safety of shipping and the prevention of pollution.

Yes, a range of certificates of competency are required for skippers and crew. Training is the remit of BIM, which runs two national fisheries colleges at Greencastle, Co Donegal and Castletownbere, Co Cork. There have been calls for the colleges to be incorporated into the third-level structure of education, with qualifications recognised as such.

Safety is always an issue, in spite of technological improvements, as fishing is a hazardous occupation and climate change is having its impact on the severity of storms at sea. Fishing skippers and crews are required to hold a number of certificates of competency, including safety and navigation, and wearing of personal flotation devices is a legal requirement. Accidents come under the remit of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board, and the Health and Safety Authority. The MCIB does not find fault or blame, but will make recommendations to the Minister for Transport to avoid a recurrence of incidents.

Fish are part of a marine ecosystem and an integral part of the marine food web. Changing climate is having a negative impact on the health of the oceans, and there have been more frequent reports of warmer water species being caught further and further north in Irish waters.

Brexit, Covid 19, EU policies and safety – Britain is a key market for Irish seafood, and 38 per cent of the Irish catch is taken from the waters around its coast. Ireland's top two species – mackerel and prawns - are 60 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively, dependent on British waters. Also, there are serious fears within the Irish industry about the impact of EU vessels, should they be expelled from British waters, opting to focus even more efforts on Ireland's rich marine resource. Covid-19 has forced closure of international seafood markets, with high value fish sold to restaurants taking a large hit. A temporary tie-up support scheme for whitefish vessels introduced for the summer of 2020 was condemned by industry organisations as "designed to fail".

Sources: Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Marine Institute, Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2022

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton
 

Please show your support for Afloat by donating