Proposed EU quota cuts a “charter for discarding”fish, industry warns

Minister for Marine Simon Coveney predicts tough talks in Brussels today


Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney has warned that proposed cuts in fish quotas for next year by the European Commission could have a "dramatic effect on coastal communities" in Ireland.

The Federation of Irish Fishermen, an umbrella group for the industry, has also said the cuts as outlined would be a “charter for discards” if implemented.

EU fisheries ministers are expected to negotiate next year’s catch in “blue Europe” well into tonight or tomorrow morning in Brussels.

A proposed 75 per cent cut in haddock and a 23 per cent reduction in prawns, Ireland's second most valuable catch, are "contrary to the very spirit of the new Common Fisheries Policy", federation chairman Francis O'Donnell has said.

'Abundance of haddock'
"The reduction in the haddock quota proposed by the European Commission makes no sense considering the abundance of haddock fishermen are seeing," Mr O'Donnell said.

He forecast that it would only result in an increase in regulatory discards to an “extraordinary level”.

The same could be said for another 15 species, he said, and the cut in prawns had “no basis whatsoever” as the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea had judged the stock to be “stable”.

Last week the council scientists said exploitation of fish stocks in the northeast Atlantic had declined significantly during the last decade, and that many stocks had been harvested sustainably according to targets by policymakers.

However, it said some populations remained low , such as cod in the Irish Sea, Kattegat (southern Scandinavia), and west of Scotland, .

Cod populations further north were at far healthier levels, it noted, and it was optimistic about the state of some 85 major fish stocks across the northeast Atlantic.

The federation said it was appalled at the European Commission’s decision to effectively reward Iceland and the Faroe Islands for “reckless behaviour” with shared migratory mackerel stock.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times