Mixed reaction to fisheries deal secured by Coveney in Brussels


There was a mixed reaction to an EU fisheries deal secured by Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney in Brussels early yesterday.

The agreement, which will allow Irish fishermen to catch a total quota of 216,300 tonnes of fish in 2013, was described as “a good deal” by Mr Coveney.

He said the quotas for various species agreed by the EU Fisheries Council were “very significantly” increased from those originally proposed by the European Commission.

“Despite the difficult initial starting position, where I was facing large cuts in over 30 stocks of interest to Ireland, the result achieved is a good deal for the Irish fishing industry.”

However, Irish Fishermen’s Organisation chairman Ebbie Sheehan said it was a “horrendous” deal, and would result in the loss of at least €1 million worth of quota.

“What we wanted was an increase, not a decrease, in any species because of the unfair share-out initially. The Minister’s statement is saying it could be worse, but I can’t see for the life of me how it could be worse.”

He said cuts to the haddock and monkfish quotas were the worst feature of the deal. “There is an absolute abundance of haddock and monkfish. All this agreement is going to achieve is more discarding, more throwing back of dead fish into the sea.”

‘Mixed bag’

However, the Federation of Irish Fishermen said the deal was “a mixed bag”. Its chairwoman, Eibhlin O’Sullivan, welcomed the increase in the quota for prawns and blue whiting, and the rollover of the horse mackerel quota.

But she expressed disappointment that the porcupine quota restriction was not lifted. She also said the reduction in the haddock quota ran contrary to the plan to eliminate the discarding of fish.

Environmental groups expressed concern at elements of the deal. Siobhán Egan of the environmental alliance Ocean 2012 said the situation regarding overfishing was improving, “but still 47 per cent of assessed fish stocks in EU waters are overfished”.

The Irish Wildlife Trust’s Padraic Fogarty said prawns were only available because the ecosystem has been turned on its head. “When the prawns are fished out will we start eating jellyfish?”

Fisheries deal Ireland's quotas

* Quotas of 36,538 tonnes of whitefish and 180,000 tonnes of pelagic (mackerel, herring etc) agreed

* Prawn quota up 6%

* Blue whiting up 63%

* Haddock down 15%

* Monkfish reduced by

* 5% in the Celtic Sea

* Horse mackerel and boarfish quotas rolled over

* Northwest herring down, reduced by 65%