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#CFP - The deal reached between EU fisheries ministers this morning on reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) should bring an end to the practice of fish discards within the next six years, according to Ireland's Marine Minister.

As reported earlier today on Afloat.ie, Minister Simon Coveney emerged from 36 hours of talks in Brussels confident that a far-reaching reform on fisheries policy had been reached.

RTÉ News reports that the compromise deal will see a 93% ban on discards take immediate effect, phasing towards a full ban by 2019, with special allowances made in certain cases where sustainability of fish stocks allows.

Minister Coveney, as president of the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers during Ireland's EU presidency, will submit the agreed reforms to the European Parliament - which has previously been steadfast in its demands for a complete ban on fish discards to halt the depletion of fish stocks in European waters.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, this week's discussions on fisheries reform in Brussels have been described as a "once-in-a-decade opportunity" to end the wasteful practice of fish discards, which has seen as much as 50% of the catch in the North Sea is thrown back overboard dead.

Published in Fishing

#Fishing - Marine Minister Simon Coveney will present a revised comprehensive compromise Irish EU presidency text to the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers on Monday 13 May seeking a new mandate to re-enter final negotiations with the European Parliament on a reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

Minister Coveney said that these decisive negotiations for agreeing a comprehensive reform of the CFP in Brussels on 13-14 May are likely to be very difficult given the significance for the next decade of what may be decided at the meeting.

“An enormous amount of work has gone into progressing the reform with council, commission and parliament during the Irish presidency," he said. "We now have an Irish presidency substantially revised set of compromise proposals which I believe give us a sound basis for positive engagement at council.

"Agreement at council on this presidency compromise package would support an ambitious reformed CFP which would secure a better future for our fish stocks and for the fishermen and coastal communities who depend on them."

The minister emphasised that there is a "very short window of opportunity for council and parliament to agree and deliver an effective reform of our fisheries policy and the Irish presidency is doing all it can to bring the institutions together to take this historic opportunity.

"I believe that if all parties focus on the critical elements of a reformed CFP, we can by working together reach realistic and substantial agreement through the co-decision process during the Irish presidency.”

Formal negotiations with the European Parliament have resulted in the Irish presidency drawing up a revised compromise 200-page legal text, which Minister Coveney, as president of the council, will use as the basis of negotiations with EU fisheries ministers.

The objective is to get political agreement on a final compromise package to enable conclusion of negotiations with the parliament and the commission on CFP reform during the Irish presidency, which concludes at the end of June.

Minister Coveney will also update EU ministerial colleagues on progress made to date by the Irish presidency during the ‘trilogue’ process where EU presidency (council), commission and parliament have been engaged in complex discussions on refining proposals for CFP reform.

Published in Fishing

#CFPreform - RTÉ News reports that up to 200 conservation groups in Ireland and abroad have written to Marine Minister Simon Coveney and his EU counterparts urging his support for an end to overfishing in European waters by 2015.

The groups claim that mismanagement of EU fisheries under the Common Fisheries Policy has resulted in significant overfishing, particularly in the Mediterranean where as much as 80% of fish stocks are fished far beyond sustainable levels.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Minister Coveney - who is President of the European Council of Fisheries Ministers - welcomed a vote in February on a reform agenda for the CFP, which has been prioritised for delivery by the Irish EU presidency before the six-month term concludes at the end of June.

Published in Fishing

#Fishing - Important talks on EU fisheries reform are continuing in Brussels after progress in Clonakilty recently, according to RTÉ News.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Marine Minister Simon Coveney welcomed a deal signed on Friday 18 January between the EU and Norway on allowable catches and quotas.

The agreement was seen as a positive move at the end of a week of talks at the National Seafood Centre, which followed a number of false starts due to difficulties in balancing mutual access and management arrangements.

Minister Coveney said that meetings taking place in Brussels today (28 January) are "about setting the scene for six months of intensive work" to produce dossiers for both the Common Fisheries Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy, for which he hopes definitive reforms can be achieved by this summer.

Both the CFP and CAP account for 40% of the European Union budget.

Published in Fishing
World Oceans Day on 8 June will see the launch European Fish Week 2011 at Trinity College's Long Room Hub.
The evening will comprise an exhibition and brief talk on this year's theme of 'Back to the Future' - reclaiming the past richness of Ireland's seas and fishing communities.
"By reminding ourselves of how living with the sea used to be, we can better understand the present extent of overfishing and how we can play a part in ending it through an effective reform of the Common Fisheries Policy," according to organisers OCEAN2012.
The event, which will also feature music and a reception, begins at 6pm on 8 June at the Long Room Hub in Trinity College, Dublin 2. Those wishing to attend should RSVP to [email protected] by 3 June.
Further events will be taking place throughout Europe from 4-12 June. For more information visit ocean2012.eu.

World Oceans Day on 8 June will see the launch European Fish Week 2011 at Trinity College's Long Room Hub.

The evening will comprise an exhibition and brief talk on this year's theme of 'Back to the Future' - reclaiming the past richness of Ireland's seas and fishing communities.

"By reminding ourselves of how living with the sea used to be, we can better understand the present extent of overfishing and how we can play a part in ending it through an effective reform of the Common Fisheries Policy," according to organisers OCEAN2012.

The event, which will also feature music and a reception, begins at 6pm on 8 June at the Long Room Hub in Trinity College, Dublin 2. Those wishing to attend should RSVP to [email protected] by 3 June.

Further events will be taking place throughout Europe from 4-12 June. For more information visit ocean2012.eu.

Published in Fishing

Ireland's Commercial Fishing 

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

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