17 December 2018
By Bryan Smyth
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., today expressed his serious concern at the potential impact on Irelands’ fishing industry, ahead of the upcoming Annual EU Fisheries negotiations in Brussels on the 17th and 18th of December. The Minister said that the final phasing in of the landing obligation or ‘discards ban’ for all Irish stocks in 2019 and moving towards fishing at maximum sustainable yield levels, which are positive developments for fishermen in the medium term, added to the complexities and real challenges in this year’s negotiations.
Minister Creed said today; “If the Commission’s quota proposals remain unchanged, we are facing a very challenging situation for 2019, particularly in the context of the full implementation of the landing obligation or ‘discards ban’”.
The Commission’s proposal includes cuts to Celtic Sea Cod (-58%), Celtic Sea Haddock (-14%), and for our second most important stock, Prawns, a cut of -32%.
The Minister added; “I presented the scale and implications of these cuts to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the 4th of December following the completion of a Sustainability Impact Assessment which was open to public consultation. I also met the fishing industry and other stakeholders and got a detailed brief on their issues and priorities. I am very concerned about the level of cuts proposed for our whitefish and prawn fisheries and the implications of some of these for the effective roll out of the landing obligation.”
The Minister went on to say; “At these negotiations, my goal will be, with the support of our stakeholders and scientists, to persuade the Commission to apply the available scientific advice in a balanced and practical manner. We need to work with the fishing industry to enable them to end the discarding of marketable and juvenile fish in a way which does not threaten the viability of the industry. A practical approach is especially important in the context of the full implementation of the landing obligation, which will apply to all quota stocks in 2019. Some of the Commissions novel proposals are not in the interest of the Irish fishing industry and are not fully justified by the scientific advice. I will be focusing my attention on those.”
Minister Creed has, following detailed negotiation with the other countries involved, accepted substantial cuts in our important mackerel, blue whiting and Celtic Sea Herring quotas, which are necessary to ensure the long term sustainability of those fish stocks.
Concluding, Minister Creed said; “This is my third December Fisheries Council and I do not underestimate the challenges especially with regard to the landing obligation. Working with industry and other stakeholders, as well as with Commissioner Vella and relevant Member States I will be doing my utmost to achieve a fair and balanced outcome for Ireland’s fishing industry. As we transition to the full implementation of the Reformed Common Fishery Policy, I want to ensure the continued vibrancy of our industry and the long term sustainability of our stocks.”