16 December 2015
By Elaine Murphy
Increase in whitefish value for third consecutive year
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney T.D. early this morning (Wednesday) announced that he has secured 36,886 tonnes of whitefish quotas for Irish fishermen at today’s EU Fisheries negotiations. This is a 10% increase on last year.
The deal was agreed at 1.30am after 2 days of intensive negotiations.
The whitefish quotas agreed amounted to a value of €131m, an increase of €10m on the 2015 figure.
For the third consecutive year, the values of whitefish and prawn quotas available in 2016 show an increase. The overall 8% increase in quota for prawns, one of Ireland’s most valuable fisheries, includes a quota uplift to support the introduction of the discards ban.
Minister Coveney said, “We are currently rolling out the most radical reform ever agreed under the Common Fisheries Policy. The phasing out of discards is a challenging policy for the fishing community to implement and is being supported by the introduction of quota uplift for fisheries affected. A discards ban will apply to prawn, whiting, haddock and hake fisheries in 2016. Fishermen are being given additional quota to cover the increased landings with an 18% overall increase for these stocks with an additional value of €9m, if more selective fishing methods are used to avoid juvenile catches.”
Minister Coveney added, “The new CFP also introduces a policy that sets quotas at the highest level possible while ensuring the sustainability of the stock (Maximum Sustainable Yield or MSY). This will result in increased quotas and stability for the fishing sector in the coming years.”
In some cases, moving towards MSY will result in short term reductions in quota as we rebuild stocks and we can see that reflected in the 4% reduction in cod in the Celtic Sea and a 13% reduction in the haddock stock in the Celtic Sea. However, the benefits of the policy are visible in the Celtic Sea where we now have an increase of 26% in the whiting stock which is now being managed at MSY levels.
The quotas secured at Council are important for ports around the coast;
– The prawn fishery is Ireland’s most important whitefish fishery and was facing a 10% cut going into Council. The final quota outcome is an 8% increase, an additional €4.8m in value terms over last year for the prawn fleet.
– North West – Greencastle and Killybegs; whitefish quotas have increased by 20% with notable increases in megrim ( 26%), monkfish (20%), north west haddock (42%) and rockhall haddock (25%).
– South and West – Ros a Mhil, Dingle, Castletownbere, Union Hall and Dunmore East; total whitefish quotas have increased by 7%. Notable increases are whiting (26%), Megrim (5%), and Hake (21%).
– The Irish Sea haddock quota is increased by (40%) which is important for the ports of Clogherhead, Howth and Kilmore Quay.
– Other notable increases are the 48% increase in the large horse mackerel quota for the pelagic fleet in the north and west coast and the 3% increase in the albacore tuna for the south west tuna fleet.
In relation to herring off the West and North West coast, further scientific advice is being sought with a view to establishing a small commercial fishery later in the year.
Finally, the Council agreed to strengthened conservation measures for the endangered sea bass stock, including the introduction of a catch and release recreational angling fishery for the first half of 2016, with a one fish bag limit for the second half of the year. This is important for the bass angling tourism business.
Concluding, Minister Coveney said, “Overall, this is a very positive and balanced package for our fishing sector. I am confident this deal for 2016 will support further growth in the seafood sector while underpinning the long term sustainability of fish stocks.”