Environmental group takes High Court action over fishing quotas regulation

FIE claims quantity of fish that can be caught by Irish fishing boats in 2020 are above maximum sustainable yield

An environmental group has brought a High Court challenge over an EU regulation setting fishing quotas for 2020.

Friends of the Irish Environment CLG (FIE) has brought the case arising from its fears fish stocks are under serious pressure from over fishing.

The case concerns the alleged failure by the Irish State to meet a legally defined deadline of ending overfishing of all stocks by 2020.

FIE claims the main goal of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, which was reformed in 2013, is to restore and maintain fish stocks above sustainable levels. Under the policy, sustainable levels for all fish stocks were to be achieved by 2015, where possible, or by 2020 at the latest.


Despite the aims of the policy, FIE claims the European Commission has set total allowable catches for national fleets, for a wide range of fish stocks, at unsustainable levels. This will have “profound negative consequences for the marine environment and the sustainability of European fishing activities”, it argues.

The quantity of fish that can be caught by Irish fishing boats in 2020, as set out in a series of notices issued by the Minister for Agriculture earlier this year, are above the maximum sustainable yield, it claims.

It alleges the notices are invalid on grounds including they are not consistent with the proper management and conservation of the State’s fishing quota under the Common Fisheries Policy.

As a result, it has brought judicial review proceedings against the Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, Ireland and Attorney General.

Represented by James Devlin SC, with John Kenny BL, instructed by Fred Logue solicitor, the group is seeking various orders and declarations. These include an order quashing the State’s decision to approve the quotas in a series of Fisheries Management Notices issued in April, May and June last. In adopting these notices, the State respondents have breached the 2006 Sea Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act, it is claimed.

It also wants the High Court to refer issues in the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union for determination. Permission to bring the challenge was granted, on an ex-parte basis, by Mr Justice Anthony Barr on Wednesday. The judge returned the case to next month.