WHILE recognising what he described as a ‘reasonable outcome’ to Fisheries Council talks on quotas for fish stocks for 2020, a fishermen’s spokesman qualified his welcome by saying that the fate of the Irish fishing industry remains ‘inextricably linked to Brexit negotiations.’
CEO of the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation, Seán O’Donoghue, said that this is almost certain to be the last December Fisheries Council in this format with the looming withdrawal of the UK from the EU: ‘This was the metaphorical calm before a potentially-devastating storm with the long-term future of the industry very much in the balance as the UK and EU negotiating teams assess and mould Britain’s exit plan from the EU.’
After another set of marathon talks that went into a third day, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD, announced on Wednesday morning that EU Agreement had been reached on setting sustainable quotas for fish stocks following two days of intensive negotiations at the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers in Brussels.
The total package of fish quotas agreed is 195,000 tonnes worth €275 million for the Irish fishing industry in 2020. There will be increases in quotas for a number of our important stocks – including mackerel (41% increase) and haddock (+30%), monkfish (+7%) and megrims (+3%) in the Celtic Sea.
Our second most important fishery, prawns, has been reduced by 15% in accordance with the scientific advice due to the decline in stock density in some important prawn beds.
Some stocks such as cod and whiting in the Celtic Sea remain in very poor shape and, at this Council, agreement was reached on the introduction of significant additional safeguards designed to rebuild these stocks. KFO’s Sean O’Donoghue agreed that TACs and quotas had been set at sustainable levels.
However, Green Party MEP Grace O’Sullivan has expressed disappointment at the agreement, saying ‘These quotas will make fishing unsustainable into the future. Overfishing past 2020 is illegal.
‘We all agreed that in 2013 when we reformed the Common Fisheries Policy and set an end to overfishing by next year. We did this because otherwise stocks would continue to collapse, and fishers would be out of a job.’
Representatives of the Irish South & West Fish Producers Organisation also attended the talks in Brussels.