Letters

Taking stock of fish stock comments

November 29th, 2020 8:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

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SIR – I refer to an article published on page 5 of last week’s edition, under the heading ‘Green light for review of EU fishing quotas’ referring to comments from Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) and relating to fish quotas.

The article spoke of a green light to push politicians to make decisions allowing fish stocks to recover. This clearly implies that decisions made by politicians up to now were contrary to this objective.

The reality is, however, that any implication that fish stocks in the waters on which Irish fishers depend are subject to overfishing simply isn’t true. 

The most recent EU STECF reports clearly state that stocks have recovered, thereby allowing a 50% increase since 2009 in fish landings which sustain, not only our fishing fleet, but the populations of Europe with healthy nutritious food, never more important than during a pandemic.

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) provides advice on how much fish can be caught in a single year, ensuring that in following years, stocks are maintained and numbers replenished.

Europe accounts for 1/20 of the fish caught globally and in the north west waters, including all waters surrounding Ireland and stretching west from Scotland, north to the Faroes and south to Land’s End, Ireland catches only 5% of the EU’s & UK’s quota entitlements.

From this, it is crystal clear that Irish fishermen are no threat to the fish stocks of Europe’s north-west waters, let alone global stocks.   

EU fishing quotas are governed by multi-annual planning, authorising the share-out of the fish off our shores to different EU member states’ fishing boats, based on a mixed stock advice whereby ICES give three ranges of figures MSY (maximum sustainable yield) Upper, MSY, and MSY lower at this time each year, for catch quotas in the following year. Rarely is the upper range chosen.

I have participated in many ICES workshops in mainland Europe and in their head offices in Denmark and I also work with our Marine Institute in Galway.

I can categorically assure the reader the threat of overfishing in the waters surrounding Ireland is not as the spokesperson for FIE believes. 

The wasteful practice of dumping perfectly good fish over the side of fishing vessels has ended.

EU reports have shown that in the north east Atlantic, stocks biomass has increased by 50% since 2009 and the fishing pressure in the EU waters of the NE Atlantic is now at Maximum Sustainable Yield.

Patrick Murphy

CEO, Irish South & West         

Fish Producers Organisation, The Pier, 

Castletownbere.

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