Michael Creed warns on EU’s proposed fish quota cuts

Reducing quotas could cost Irish whitefish fleet €15 million next year, says Minister

The cuts proposed by the EU include a reduction of 68 per cent for Celtic Sea cod, 28 per cent for megrim and 20 per cent for pollock. Photograph: Chris Furlong/Getty Images

The cuts proposed by the EU include a reduction of 68 per cent for Celtic Sea cod, 28 per cent for megrim and 20 per cent for pollock. Photograph: Chris Furlong/Getty Images

 

Proposed cuts in EU fish quotas could cost the Irish whitefish fleet almost €15 million next year, Minister for the Marine Michael Creed has warned.

Mr Creed, who is attending his first annual quota carve-up in Brussels, said he was “very concerned” about the European Commission’s effort to reduce the Irish whitefish and prawn quotas.

The cuts proposed include a reduction of 68 per cent for Celtic Sea cod, 28 per cent for megrim, 20 per cent for pollock, 12 per cent for monkfish and 9 per cent for prawns – the most important stock after mackerel.

Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO) chief executive Sean O’Donoghue said the cut in prawn quotas is not justified, as scientific advice had recommended a 9 per cent increase.

Mr O’Donoghue said the indirect impact of the reductions could cost the industry 400 full- and part-time jobs, and lead to indirect losses of about €23 million.

Mr Creed said Ireland would be seeking a “balanced outcome that delivers necessary cuts to protect stocks while maintaining quota levels where justified”.

Scientific advice

“My goal will be, with the support of our stakeholders and scientists to persuade the European Commission to apply the available scientific advice in a rational and practical manner,” he said.

This was particularly important in the context of the continuing rollout of a ban on discards at sea, which would apply to all quota stocks from 2019, he said.

Lucrative quotas for mackerel and blue whiting are expected to be increased, but further cuts in horse mackerel, Celtic Sea herring and boarfish are also proposed.

Birdwatch Ireland has urged Ministers to adhere to scientific advice, given the importance of sustainable stocks for some 23 species of seabirds regularly breeding on the Irish coast.

“Ireland has obligations under the European nature directives to ensure their protection,”the non-governmental organisation has said. It has pointed out that pressures from fisheries include overfishing, marine litter and seabird bycatch.

The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) has also urged the Government to take a “strong position” in adhering to scientific advice.

“The mismanagement of haddock in the Celtic Sea and west of Scotland areas is very worrying, while the steep decline of boarfish in such a short space of time surely indicates the failure of the current system,” it has said.

“The Irish Sea has suffered serious and chronic ecological damage and the decline in commercial fish stocks is just one indicator of this,” the IWT has said.