Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: Fishing

Cork South West Deputy Christopher O'Sullivan recently hosted Billy Kelleher MEP for a series of meetings with key fishing sector representatives in West Cork.

The discussions, which took place in Castletownbere, Baltimore and Union Hall, focused on a range of pressing issues facing the fishing industry, including quota sharing, decommissioning, and regulatory challenges.

"It's no secret that the fishing sector has faced unprecedented challenges over the past couple of years," said Deputy O'Sullivan.

"It's essential that our MEPs have a clear understanding of these issues, and I’m glad Billy - who is no stranger to West Cork or the fishing industry - came to these important discussions."

Stakeholders at the meetings included fishermen and processors, who took the opportunity to express their frustrations and concerns directly to both Deputy O'Sullivan and MEP Kelleher.

Among the critical topics discussed were impacts of Brexit, the urgent need for Ireland to increase its quota share across various species, the importance of timely payments for those who participate in decommissioning, and the high level of regulation and policing faced by the Irish fishing sector.

“Brexit has had a major impact on Cork’s fishing industry due to quota reductions,” Mr Kelleher said.

“Any changes in fishing policy must take into account Brexit and the changing migratory paths of fish species. Fishers want to see a sustainable future for themselves, their families, and the wider community that they work as part of".

Published in Fishing
Tagged under

Irish fishing industry leaders have given a mixed reaction to the conclusion of a fisheries deal between the EU and Norway earlier this month.

Norway, a non-EU member, “still secured more out of the deal than Ireland”, Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation (IFPO) chief executive Aodh O’Donnell said.

“The strongest possible one for our fishers” was how Ireland’s marine minister Charlie McConalogue described the final deal concluded on March 17th. He paid tribute to the role of Irish producer organisation representatives in ensuring this.

McConalogue said he was “particularly satisfied that in relation to blue whiting, Ireland was able to secure a 33% reduction in the traditional level of Norwegian access to EU waters from 68% to 45%”, along with Norway’s “complete exclusion” from the blue whiting fishery in the Irish Box off the north-west Irish coast.

The minister said that he was “able to maintain the principle that Ireland's contribution to the EU quota transfer to Norway would be capped at 4% and, as importantly, established for the first time that Ireland would be directly compensated with additional quota by other member states for transfers and access provisions”.

“I was able to secure an additional 4,820 tonnes of blue whiting for the Irish fleets,” he said, adding that scientists advised that the stock was in “good shape”.

Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation chief executive Sean O’Donoghue said the KFO had two key priorities since the negotiations between the EU and Norway began last October.

“The first was that there was to be no access to the Irish Box unless it was paid for in blue whiting. The second was that the transfer of blue whiting from the EU to Norway in the balance be kept at a minimum – circa 4%,” he said.

“Both were achieved in the final agreement. Unfortunately, a new dimension was tabled late in the day in terms of 15% access to Atlanto-Scandian herring, which is rejected. We will have to see how this can be rectified going forward,” O’Donoghue warned.

“Norway’s gains under their latest EU deal allows them to catch 4.5 times our blue whiting quota in our own EEZ,” the IFPO and Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association (IFPEA) said.

“Norway have been allocated an extra 36,000MT of blue whiting in the Irish EEZ, compared to just 4,800MT extra blue whiting for Ireland,” O Donnell said for the IFPO.

“Norway, a non-EU member still secured more out of the deal than Ireland. They can now catch 224,000 metric tonnes (MT) of blue whiting, west of Ireland, whereas we can catch a maximum of 52,000MT in our own waters,”he said.

“In return, Ireland gets just over 258MT of Arctic Cod and access to Norwegian waters to fish 2,640 tonnes of Atlanto- Scandian herring,” O’Donnell said.

“In addition, Ireland benefits from 4,800MT of blue whiting from other member states. This transfer includes a paltry volume of 2,400MT in lieu of Norway having access to the Irish EEZ - outside the Irish Box - to catch an additional 36,000MT of blue whiting,”he said.

“If you do the sums, you can see they can catch almost five times more blue whiting in Irish waters than we can. This last-minute St Patrick’s Day deal does nothing to address Ireland’s unfair share of EU fishing quotas and rights,”he said.

O’Donnell said the industry counted it as “a win” that the EU refused to grant Norway its “unreasonable request for unfettered fishing rights inside the Irish Box”.

“We feel this was due to intense joint lobbying efforts with other fishing organisations. Our industry united as never before to make our voice heard and we are proud of what we achieved together. We feel there has been a discernible shift in attitude at both Dept of the Marine and EU level towards our fishing industry,”he said.

Brendan Byrne of the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association (IFPEA) said Brexit was part of the problem leading to this latest deal.

“After Brexit, Norway was excluded from British waters. That displacement brought them into Irish waters to fish their blue whiting quota. Ireland had already donated 40% of the EU’s quota allocation to Britain, so were already the biggest losers post-Brexit. Norway’s increased fishing off our coast thus exacerbated an already grave situation,” Byrne said.

“The Irish Government and the EU have taken too much from Ireland for too long in fishing, so that others can benefit. This has led to the total decline of our industry, while countries like Norway see massive growth in their seafood sector,” Byrne said.

O’Donnell added that “ Ireland must not be forced to pay because Norway was displaced by Britain, under Brexit”.

“We must not allow Ireland to be the whipping boy anymore. Our challenge now is to keep collaborating cohesively as an industry. We will keep making our voice heard at home and in Europe until we achieve positive growth for the fishing and seafood industry,” he said.

Irish South and West Fish Producers’ (IS&WFPO) chief executive Patrick Murphy pointed out that Ireland was, through the EU, granting access to Norwegian boats to come and catch “hundreds of thousands of tonnes of blue whiting in waters within Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone whereby Norway’s total catch of blue whiting in these waters vastly exceeds Ireland’s entitlement to catch fish stocks of all species in Irish waters”.

Murphy said McConalogue should initiate a public consultation to “amend and change his department’s current policy on herring in Area 6a and immediately embark upon a review of policy for blue whiting”.

Boats registered in the polyvalent segment of the Irish fleet are “limited to 9% of Ireland’s total allocation of blue whiting with qualified boats having to enter a lottery so that 12 boats can be allowed partake in the fishery while the 23 boats registered in the RSW-pelagic segment of the fleet are rewarded with 91% of Ireland’s national allocation”, Murphy said.

Murphy said he had received confirmation from McConalogue that the minister has “declined to embark upon any review of blue whiting policy and has refused to review and balance the allocation of this national quota between the polyvalent and RSW-pelagic segments of the Irish fleet”

He said that this was “despite the very significant increase of 81% in Ireland’s allocation for 2023 and the fact that polyvalent segment boats entitled to partake in the blue whiting fishery are struggling to make a living”.

Published in Fishing
Tagged under

A total of 42 owners have accepted offers to scrap their fishing vessels under the Government’s Brexit-related decommissioning scheme.

The big jump in figures – which had been running at 21 accepted offers from a total of 57 offers up to early March – has been confirmed this week by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), the State’s sea fisheries board.

A BIM spokeswoman said the late increase was due to the outcome of appeals, and a decision by a number of owners to accept offers within the last two weeks of the closing date in early March.

The 42 vessels amount to total capacity of over 6,700 gross tonnes, which is 84 per cent of the target of 8,000 gross tonnes sought by the government as part of the Brexit-related scrappage scheme.

The total cost will be 63 million euro, which is below the 75 million euro secured from the EU by Ireland’s marine minister Charlie McConalogue.

The 42 vessels comprise a mixture of prawn and whitefish trawlers, seine netters, gillnetters, and beam trawl vessels, spread around fishing ports along the coast, BIM has said.

A total of four vessels had already been scrapped in “specialist recyclers” based in New Ross, Co Wexford, and Limerick by late March, BIM said.

Scheduling for the 38 other vessels is “underway”, and this must be competed in an “environmentally compliant” manner by October 31st this year, it said.

The Government was seeking to decommission up to 60 vessels from the whitefish fleet, as a result of the overall loss of fish quota due to Brexit.

BIM said this would ensure that over 9,000 tonnes of quota fish valued at €35 million annually would be available for remaining whitefish vessels to catch, ensuring the remaining fleet's economic viability into the future.

BIM’s newly appointed chief executive Caroline Bocquel said that “we understand that any decision to voluntarily decommission vessels is a very difficult one for vessel owners and BIM has been working closely with the industry in recent months to assist vessel owners through the process”.

“Recognising the magnitude of choosing to stop fishing, BIM is confident that the result of the scheme will help put the sector on a firmer financial footing and deliver a more sustainable future for the industry,”she said.

“By restoring the profitability of the fishing sector, it will help those remaining in the sector and support the wider economies of Irish coastal communities,”she said.

BIM said the voluntary decommissioning scheme is one of a number of financial supports for the Irish seafood sector that have been agreed in the wake of the Seafood Taskforce report, which was issued by a task force established by Mr McConalogue to ease the impact of Brexit.

“Thus far, up to €268 million has been made available for a wide range of schemes aimed at supporting the industry to adjust to the new situation post-Brexit,”BIM said.

Irish industry organisations had initially sought an urgent meeting with the Taoiseach on the issue, as there was considerable anger among a number of those who received offers.

Some received offers well below the quoted maximum sum of 12,000 euro per gross tonne.

Applicants who received funding for temporary tie-ups as a Brexit impact measure were also told this money must be paid back under State aid rules.

BIM said “the requirement to repay the tie-up money is an EU rule”.

The funding for the decommissioning scheme is being paid from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) awarded by the EU to Ireland. The sum of almost 1 billion euro must be used up within two years or returned.

Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation (IFPO) chief executive Aodh O’Donnell had called on the Irish government should be keeping tonnage within the State to ensure there is a route for young skippers seeking to buy vessels at a later date.

Published in Fishing
Tagged under

Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue, today attended the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Brussels.

The main item of discussion in relation to fisheries matters was the recent ‘package’ of fisheries policy communications on the Common Fisheries Policy from the European Commission.

The ’package’ consists of a Communication on the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP); a report on the Common Market Organisation for fisheries and aquaculture; a Communication on the energy transition of the fisheries and aquaculture sector, and an Action Plan to protect and restore marine ecosystems for sustainable and resilient fisheries.

Restore marine ecosystems

Minister McConalogue said after today’s Council: “I welcome the important progress which has been made under the current Common Fisheries Policy over the past decade in improving the sustainability of fish stocks. The Commission’s Communication recognises the fundamental role played by stakeholders in driving these positive changes. However, I am very concerned that the Commissions Review of the CFP has failed to analyse and address the impacts of Brexit, which has been the most significant and enduring challenge faced by the fisheries sector for generations.” 

“Last year, I established a national Common Fisheries Policy Review Group to identify the key issues for Ireland in any revision of the policy. The Report of that Group, which I formally submitted to the Commission, included key recommendations that the full impact of Brexit on the functioning of CFP must be addressed. I made clear today that those issues need to be addressed at EU level.”

The Minister said, “Looking to the future, I called for the development of a comprehensive EU strategy to set clear objectives that will protect and enhance Irish and EU interests. We need to plan for future fishery negotiations with countries such as Norway and the UK, to strengthen the EU’s hand. For example, we need to use all available EU tools, including market access to deal a fair and equitable outcome for our seafood industry.” 

Bottom trawling

Minister McConalogue also expressed his concerns at the Commission’s proposals for a blanket ban on bottom trawling, saying, “I support the introduction of management measures to achieve the conservation objectives set for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). I do not accept that achieving those objectives requires a blanket ban on using mobile fishing gear in all MPAs. There has been no impact assessment by the Commission on this aspect of the proposal nor have they provided any objective basis for this type of approach.”

This Council discussion was an initial exchange of views on the package, and further discussions will take place in the coming months. Minister McConalogue said, “This is a complex package and I will be taking time to consider and discuss in detail with all stakeholders in the coming weeks and months.”

Published in Fishing
Tagged under

Two fishermen have won an appeal over a ban on trawling inside the Irish six-mile limit.

A judgment issued by the Court of Appeal has ruled that the Government policy directive introducing a ban on trawling inside the six nautical-mile limit is invalid and of no legal effect.

The judgment by Mr Justice Murray relates to an appeal taken by Dingle-based fisherman Tom Kennedy and Castletownbere-based fisherman Neil Minihane over a policy directive introduced by the then Minister for Marine Michael Creed on March 5th, 2019.

The Irish Wildlife Trust has described the judgment as “dreadful news for marine life in coastal waters as the courts once again overturn a ban on trawling due to a technicality”.

“This was to have come into effect three years ago, but pair trawling and other destruction continues,” the IWT said in a post on social media.

The Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation (IS&WFPO) has welcomed the judgment.

The policy directive initiated by Mr Creed had ruled that all vessels over 18 metres in overall length would be banned from using trawl or seine nets inside six nautical miles, including inside the Irish coast baselines, from January 1st 2020.

A derogation was issued for certain vessels (in the polyvalent and refrigerated sea water pelagic segments) targeting sprat, up to and including December 31st, 2021.

The Court of Appeals found that the failure of the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine and the department to notify Britain and the EU of conservation and management measures that would affect non-Irish vessels rendered the policy directive as invalid.

The failure to notify Britain related to the impact on Northern Irish vessels covered by reciprocal access, known as “voisinage”.

The “voisinage” arrangements between Ireland and Northern Ireland provide for reciprocal fishing access, allowing Irish registered vessels to fish within the six-nautical mile zone in Northern Ireland and Northern Irish vessels to fish within six nautical miles of Ireland.

These arrangements stand under the Brexit Trade and Co-operation Agreement, where the EU (on behalf of Ireland) is required to notify a measure -like the new policy directive - to Britain.

Both the EU and Britain have the right to make observations before measures are applied.

After the six-mile ban was introduced, both Kennedy and Minihane had taken a judicial review, and the High Court found in their favour in October 2020.

However, an appeal was lodged in November 2020 by Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue.

The ban was temporarily reinstated in 2021 by the Court of Appeal, resulting in another round of legal action by the fishermen.

The IS&WFPO has offered to assist the Minister for Marine and his department officials to “properly introduce measures that will not discriminate against fishermen on the basis of their size and their ability to catch larger or smaller quantities of non-quota fish such as sprat”.

It has also called for a scientific evaluation of all commercial fish stocks within the six-nautical mile zone, and has said no policy directives should be set for these important fisheries until this assessment is complete.

Published in Fishing
Tagged under

The country’s major fishing organisations have called on the Oireachtas Committee dealing with the development of Marine Protected Areas to listen to them as it has to environmental organisations.

The country’s major fishing representative organisations have claimed that the Committee’s review process of the Marine Protected Areas Bill is “flawed” because it invited and heard submissions from environment groups but did not invite the fishing industry.

The Irish South and East Fish Producers, the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Organisation, the Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation, the Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation, the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation and the Aquaculture Committee of the Irish Farmers’ Association have lodged their “strongest objection at the failure to include us in consultation.”

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage is dealing with the MPAs Bill because it has been given Government responsibility for them and the Maritime Regulatory Authority (MARA).

TDs and Senators are members and met with environmental organisations - Fair Seas, BirdWatch Ireland, Irish Wildlife Trust, and Irish Whale and Dolphin Group.

The fishing organisations say they “wish to work constructively with the Committee but need to be afforded equality and respect to represent the views of their sector.”

They have sent a six-page document to the Committee, outlining their views on the MPAs Bill “on the basis we will be called before to give evidence in the same manner which was afforded to all other interested parties.”

“First and foremost, the first and aquaculture industries are not opposed to MPAs,” the document says. “We recognise and understand the need for and the value of MPAs both in the wider environmental and conservation context and in the specific value they can add to existing fisheries and food security by improving sustainability, if implemented effectively and based on scientific evidence. However, there is a need to acknowledge that Ireland’s marine area is also part of a food production system, and fisheries and aquaculture provide a vital source of protein. Balance is needed to ensure food security, economic activities, sustainable and resilient fisheries, protection of diversity, and support the fight against climate change.”

Published in Marine Planning

BIM’s new chief executive Caroline Bocquel has warned the offshore renewable energy (ORE) sector that it must improve its communication with the Irish fishing industry.

She has also told offshore wind developers that there should be “minimal impact” on the commercial fishing sector, which is already experiencing significant challenges, including the impact of Brexit.

Addressing the second national seafarers’ conference in Limerick late last month, Bocquel said that communication is a “key piece”, and such communication must be “early” and “authentic” and “not just for the sake of it”.

Communication has to be a “key part of the discussion”, she said.

She noted that Ireland’s seafood/ORE working group chaired by Capt Robert McCabe had done “huge work” on this and would be producing a set of communication protocols.

These communication protocols need to be “embedded” in the consenting regime to the extent that they “cannot be sidelined”, she said.

A second lesson which Ireland could learn from other jurisdictions is the need to work together, with discussions that could lead to better understanding.

She said that the current “developer-led” approach was “very problematic” as there were already “lines on maps”.

“We really need to be engaging on impact before drawing lines on maps,” she said.

She cited exclusion zones around wind farms, and the impact of such infrastructure on marine species, along with the appeals process, as concerns for the fishing industry.

She said BIM was working with the Marine Institute on gathering data.

While some developers were engaging directly with the industry or through representative organisations, others were not engaging at all, she said.

She said BIM was looking at technical support in relation to opportunities and approaches to co-location and developing training opportunities for fishers in the ORE sector.

Irish South and East Fish Producers’ Organisation chief executive John Lynch said that he had warned the ORE and fishing industry sectors were on a “collision course” last year, and this was still the case.

The fishing industry was “united” in its concerns about spatial squeeze, and food security was an important human requirement as energy.

He said the industry was working on its own marine spatial plan from a fishing industry point of view, as the Irish state had failed to produce one.

Several speakers were critical of the lack of a marine spatial plan, while consultant Michael Keatinge called for coastal communities/the fishing industry to have an actual equity stake in ORE projects – not just compensation.

He said there was a “klondyke” for ORE in Irish waters, and dialogue with the fishing industry had not developed at all.

The project off the Donegal coast involving Hexagon and the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO) showed there could be a new approach, he said, and the fishing industry was not against offshore wind but “just wants to be part of it”.

Marine scientist Damien Haberlin of University College Cork’s MaREI research centre for energy, climate and marine spoke of the gaps in knowledge on the impact of offshore wind.

Whereas there were tens of thousands of scientific papers on the biomedical sector, there were less than 200 papers relating to ORE, he said.

Haberlin said that if he had a “pot of money”, he would wish to spend it on research into the cumulative effects of offshore wind farms, both spatial and temporal.

Though there would be a price for not developing ORE in the context of climate change, “let’s do it, but let’s do it right”, Haberlin said.

Published in BIM
Tagged under

Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue has refused to be drawn on calls for the State to take specific measures to ensure a route for young entrants into the fishing industry to buy vessels in the future.

Interviewed by journalists at The Skipper Expo in the University of Limerick (UL) this weekend, Mr McConalogue also said he still believed commercial fishing was a “dynamic sector” in spite of the latest challenges posed by Brexit, which resulted in considerable loss of national fish quota.

The Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation (IFPO) has called on the State to reserve some tonnage from vessels which are accepted for the national decommissioning scheme – introduced in response to the loss of quota due to Brexit.

Keeping a “bank” of tonnage in State hands would allow for new entrants to build vessels in the future, the IFPO has said.

Asked about this, Mr McConalogue would not comment specifically beyond reiterating that the decommissioning scheme was a seafood taskforce recommendation supported by the fishing industry organisations.

Scrapping up to 60 boats would allow for more quota for those remaining, after loss of quota due to Brexit, he said.

Speaking earlier to Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show, Mr McConalogue said that though he came from a farming background, he was at school with people from the fishing community and he would do everything he possibly could to support the sector.

“We have seen stocks become depleted because of overfishing we have been moving to a situation where we apply sustainability at all levels to how we fish,”he said.

He said he was also working to ensure the best outcome in relation to Norway’s bid to secure more blue whiting off the Irish coast.

He said there were opportunities in offshore energy, and there would be “jobs for those who have expertise at sea”.

Mr McConalogue said that a new sustainable fisheries scheme would ensure that use of sustainable catching gear and fuel efficiency measures would be eligible for capital grants.

Listen to the full interview with Mr McConalogue on The Pat Kenny Show here

Published in Fishing
Tagged under

EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius say the EU wants to establish a “pact for fisheries and oceans” to ensure sustainable fisheries, protect and restore marine ecosystems and strengthen long-term food security.

The Commissioner was commenting as the European Commission published four action plans relating to biodiversity and climate breakdown in the marine environment.

Phasing out bottom trawling, extending marine protected areas and reducing reliance on fossil fuel are main themes of the four plans, arising from the European “Green Deal”.

The four plans are: 

Communication on the Energy Transition of the EU Fisheries and Aquaculture sector

an Action Plan to protect and restore marine ecosystems for sustainable and resilient fisheries

Communication on the common fisheries policy today and tomorrow and 

Report on the Common Market Organisation for fishery and aquaculture products.

The EU said the main objectives of the measures are “to promote the use of cleaner energy sources and reduce dependency on fossil fuels as well as reduce the sector’s impact on marine ecosystems”.

“The proposed actions will be carried out gradually to help the sector adapt,”it said.

“ A “Pact for Fisheries and Oceans” will also support the full implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) in coordination with member states and fisheries stakeholders, including fishers, producer organisations, regional advisory councils, civil society and scientists,”the Commission said.

“The proposals also have at its heart making the sector an attractive job place for the younger generations,”it said.

The proposed “pact” aims “to ensure sustainable and resilient fisheries, protect and restore our marine ecosystems, make the sector profitable and strengthen our food security in the long-term”, the Commissioner said.

“We are proposing concrete actions to restore marine ecosystems and to reduce the impact of fishing activities on the marine environment, thus responding also to the commitments the EU made in the historic agreement reached at COP15 in Montreal on a new global biodiversity framework,”he said.

“ We are also promoting an energy transition to help the sector adapt its vessels and equipment, improve working conditions and move towards renewable, low-carbon energy sources,”he said.

“ We know this is a challenging task. For this reason, the transformation will be gradual and we will promote dialogue between all communities to lay the foundation for a resilient fisheries and aquaculture sector,” he said.

The Commissioner gave a press conference which can be viewed here

More information is also provided by the European Commission on the following links:

Q&A on the Communication on the functioning of the common fisheries policy

Q&A on the Action Plan to protect and restore marine ecosystems for sustainable and resilient fisheries

Q&A on the energy transition in the EU fisheries and aquaculture sector

Q&A on the Report on the results of Common Market Organisation for fishery and aquaculture products


Published in Fishing
Tagged under

Two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have dubbed the European Commission’s action plans for biodiversity and climate change in ocean and fisheries as “inaction plans”.

NGOs Birdwatch Ireland and Our Fish were responding to the European Commission’s publication of four EU action plans related to the marine, born out of the European Green Deal.

Our Fish programme director Rebecca Hubbard said they “fail to jump the chasm from lofty rhetoric to a roadmap for meaningful action that would both transform European fisheries and address the planetary crisis”.

“While we welcome the European Commission’s Marine Action Plan’s proposal to map seabed carbon and the impact of bottom trawling in EU waters, the proposal is too little, too slow and fails to address extraction of fish and CO2 emissions”, said Hubbard.

“The EU must end the ploughing up of seabed carbon stores, the excessive removal of the ocean’s carbon engineers such as fish, and the CO2 emissions from vessels burning subsidised fossil fuel. These practices are neither good fisheries management nor good carbon management and the Commission’s Marine Action Plan fails to put this right within the urgent timeframes we need,” she said.

“More positively, in its report on the Evaluation of the functioning of the Common Fisheries Policy, the European Commission has taken important steps forward in committing to develop an economic tool that properly values natural marine ecosystem services to society and developing a guide for EU member states to utilise environmental, social and economic criteria for the allocation of fishing quota,” she said.

“By allocating access to fish based on environmental or social performance criteria, the EU can drive the transition to a low-carbon, low-impact fishing fleet that restores the ocean and delivers thriving fisheries,” she said.

“However, the proposed EU Action Plan: Energy transition of EU fisheries and aquaculture appears to be more of a discussion paper than an ‘action plan’,” she continued.

“ An economic incentive is clearly needed to drive the decarbonisation of the EU fishing sector, along with a financial penalty for failing to implement it,” Hubbard said.

“ In addition, the Energy Taxation Directive must eliminate all fuel subsidies, while the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) must be updated to require that at least 35% of any support goes to transitioning to low impact and low carbon fishing - anything less is gross hypocrisy,”she said.

“This Commission and European Parliament have just over a year left in their mandates, yet the climate and biodiversity emergency does not stand for election or wait for endorsement,” she said.

“Our Fish is calling on the European Commission and EU member state governments to ditch the rhetoric and take definitive action by immediately beginning to implement and strengthen the measures described in these proposals and for members of the European Parliament to support them in doing so,” Hubbard said.

Earlier this month, the Low Impact Fishers of Europe (LIFE), of which the Irish Islands Marine Resources Organisation is a member, renewed its call for the implementation of Article 17.

Article 17 of the Basic Regulation (EU Regulation 1380/2013) requires that member states allocate fishing opportunities using “objective and transparent criteria, including those of an environmental, social and economic nature”.

It also calls on member states “to endeavour to provide incentives to fishing vessels deploying selective fishing gear or using fishing techniques with reduced environmental impact”.”

LIFE is calling for a comprehensive and all-round response to implementing Article 17, calling on member state governments, the European Commission, and members of the European Parliament to step up to their role in addressing the lack of action on Article 17.

Birdwatch Ireland marine policy and advocacy officer Sinead Loughran said, “there is just over a year left in the current Commission and European Parliament term, but the climate and biodiversity emergencies demand immediate action and continue unabated regardless of our political cycles”.

“We need immediate action from our Government and the Commission in beginning to implement and strengthen the measures described in the package of proposals published today, and members of the European Parliament need to support them in doing so,”she said.

“ These legal obligations already exist, and the implementation cannot wait any longer if we are to ensure a healthy ocean for biodiversity, for climate and for healthy, sustainable fisheries,” Loughran said.

In May 2021, sixteen European NGOs published a detailed shadow action plan * to provide key recommendations for the European Commission’s Action plan to conserve fisheries resources and protect marine ecosystems.

* Joint NGO Shadow Action Plan: Realising the Ambition of the EU Biodiversity Strategy in the Ocean: Key recommendations for the European Commission’s Action plan to conserve fisheries resources and protect marine ecosystems

Published in Fishing
Page 7 of 79