'Difficult' talks on fish quotas begin
EU fisheries ministers are beginning three days of negotiations in Brussels today which will attempt to set catch quotas for the fishing industry for next year.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney said this year’s EU Fisheries Council talks will be “one of the most difficult” in years because of the significant cuts to quotas being proposed for Irish fishermen, and the breakdown in negotiations between the EU and Norway on access for fishing fleets last month.
The European Commission has proposed a 21 per cent reduction in the amount of whitefish and prawns that could be caught by Irish vessels next year.
This could cost Irish fishermen as much as €16.9 million, and result in a loss of €53 million to the Irish economy overall when the effects on fish factories were factored in, Mr Coveney said.
Between 450 and 550 full and part-time jobs were at risk, he added.
The proposals recommend quota reductions for almost 30 different fish stocks, including a 55 cut in the haddock quota, a 32 per cent cut for hake, and a 20 per cent cut for monkfish.
“I have considered the scientific advice and I am not convinced that the proposed level of cuts is justified,” Mr Coveney said.
“I will be making a strong case for a more reasonable approach, taking account of the serious potential effect on jobs and incomes at this time.”
The Minister added that he would be seeking an agreement would also reduce the “unacceptable practice” of discarding fish at sea.
Breakdown in negotiations
Irish fishermen will also be affected by the breakdown of annual talks between the EU and Norway earlier this month, which will restrict where Irish and Norwegian vessels can fish for mackerel, blue whiting and herring from January 1st.
Mr Coveney said this would impact on the Fisheries Council to negotiate quotas for mackerel, blue whiting and atlanto scandic herring for next year.
The Minister also accused Iceland and the Faroe Islands of continuing to fish irresponsibly for mackerel, which will “result in the depletion of the stock and substantially reduced fishing opportunities for all”.
“It is essential to the future sustainability of our domestic fishing industry that we obtain a fair and positive outcome to these discussions from Ireland’s perspective,” he added.