Achieving an overall increase of 30% in whitefish quota, including Rockall Haddock (+92%), and monkfish (25 %) in for the North West will provide improved fishing opportunities for whitefish fishermen in Donegal. There are also significant increases in Haddock (+20%) Cod (+16%) and sole 394% in the Irish Sea and Haddock (+20%), Hake (+28%) and Megrims (+47%) in the Celtic Sea. Mr O’Donoghue welcomed these as “very significant wins and reflects the importance of the industry working towards an overall sustainable outcome for the sector.”
Commenting at the conclusion of the Council in Brussels this morning, Mr O’Donoghue said: “These were without doubt the most challenging negotiations which Irish fisheries have ever faced, since a hard Brexit potentially throws everything we have agreed into disarray. Of major concern to the KFO and the wider industry, was the landing obligation which will enter its final phase on the 1st January 2019 when all species subject to TACs and quotas become subject to Article 15 of the Common Fisheries Policy. The Implementation of the landing obligation, as laid out in the Commission’s proposals, would have had large negative consequences for Ireland’s whitefish and pelagic sectors as the “choke species” factor could have triggered the closure of most fisheries in the early months of 2019. The prospect of “choke species” paralysing the Irish fishing industry was a very credible threat with knock-on effects for a vast array of sustainable fisheries, hitherto able to function normally, being caught in the slip-stream. I am glad to say the Council has adopted a workable solution to the “choke” situation with the allocation of by catch quotas to the Member States for the five stocks where a zero TAC was set.
“In terms of pelagic quota, there are increases in western horse mackerel 18% and Atlanto Scandia herring 35%. It was not all good news as there is a 20% reduction in mackerel which we knew in advance of Council as it was agreed by EU/Norway/ Faroes at the end of last month. Unfortunately, this 20% reduction is based on what I firmly believe is erroneous scientific advice. The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) advice stated this fishery had been declining since 2011 which is contrary to the entire fishing industry view. This is yet another major mistake in the mackerel advice not to mention the mistakes made last year and again this year on Atlanto Scandia herring. I am very concerned that ICES does not have a fit-for-purpose quality assurance system in place. This must be addressed as matter of urgency. There have been far too many mistakes over the last number of years and it is undermining confidence in the scientific advice. At least, ICES has now agreed to carry out a re-evaluation of the mackerel advice in early 2019,” said Mr O’Donoghue.
“The reduction of 32 % in nephrops in area VII is large but is partly mitigated somewhat by the exemption from the landing obligation. Taking this into account the reduction is in line with scientific advice of 17%.
“I would like to recognise the role and commitment of Minister Creed and his officials in working closely with us, taking on board our concerns and delivering a sustainable and economically viable package of measures for 2019,” concluded Mr O’Donoghue.