Provisional fish quota discussions end in Brussels

Provisional fish quota discussions have ended in Brussels, with Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue welcoming what he says are a number of key decisions on quotas which will benefit the Irish fleet.

However, the quotas agreed this morning after marathon overnight talks are only in place for the first three months of 2023, as the EU/UK agreement is not finalised.

Minister McConalogue said he stressed the importance of a deal for Ireland to his colleagues, and also highlighted the importance of ongoing discussions with Norway.

In the interim, he says good work has been done over the past two days………..

However, the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation has described the meeting as another very unsatisfactory chapter.

CEO Sean O’Donaghue says that’s exacerbated this year by the fact that the no deal has been signed between the EU and UK, but he says those talks ended on Sunday with a concensus reached.

He says the interim quotas agreed this morning could add another layer of unnecessary red tape to already fraught negotiations.


Both statements in full underneath


KFO Statement  –

Council negotiations futile in shadow of EU/UK talks

Absence of Danish resolution on critical mackerel stock compounds fishermen’s misery

The Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO) has described the outcome of the annual meeting of the Council of Fisheries Ministers as another very unsatisfactory chapter. The issue was exacerbated this year with the EU and UK reaching consensus on Sunday last but without signing any actual agreement.

Speaking on the conclusion of the talks early this morning (Tuesday), KFO Chief Executive, Seán O’Donoghue commented: “The EU/UK negotiations are complete, but the agreement has not been signed which means that this Council cannot definitively set TACs (Total Allowable Catch) and quotas for our fishermen as of now. However, we’re informed that the interim quotas may be changed in due course – assuming the EU/UK agreement is signed – in order for the full years TACs and quotas to apply from January 1st, 2023. What we feared prior to the Council has come to pass with the issuing of interim TACs and quotas. Let’s hope this can be changed in the coming week.

“To my mind, it’s adding another layer of unnecessary red tape to already fraught negotiations. We broadly know what’s going to be announced but without the negotiators signing off on it, it renders our Council of Ministers powerless to set quotas and provide the certainty needed to fishermen.

“We are undoubtedly being hampered by the absence of a Government in Denmark with the Council deferring the decision on the contentious 12,000 tonnes of mackerel which Denmark used to fish in Norwegian waters prior to Brexit, which was taken from the western mackerel stock. Our case has been vindicated in a Commission report.

“Next year, Irish fishermen will lose almost 14,000 tonnes of mackerel worth anything up to €21million as a direct result of Brexit. Securing the return of the ‘Danish’ fish which rightfully belong to the western waters mackerel stock will be a small, but nonetheless an important step in trying to ameliorate the huge Brexit loss. We need this issue resolved at the earliest opportunity and we have directly requested that Minister Charlie McConalogue ensure this is placed at the top of the agenda of the first Council of 2023.

“With EU/Norway negotiations stalling last week, only 80% of the blue whiting TAC has been issued for the first quarter of 2023. I have gone on record to say that given the proximity of Ireland to the main fishing grounds of this stock, landings into Ireland are obviously attractive for foreign vessels. It is therefore of critical importance if the talks are resumed, any transfer to Norway is kept at a very low level and that access to the Irish Box should not be conceded unless it is paid for by the transfer of blue whiting quota,” concluded Mr O’Donoghue.


Government statement –

McConalogue protecting Irish fishers at difficult quota negotiations 

Good progress at Fisheries Council and in negotiations with the UK but Minister clear that work still to be done as no deal with Norway

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, T.D. today welcomed the progress made on key Fish Quotas for Ireland at the EU Fisheries Council of Ministers which began on Sunday morning. The Council has been agreeing provisional fish quotas to enable EU fishers operate from the first of January. In parallel, intensive work has continued to conclude a deal with the UK which would see full year quotas established for 2023 on the majority of stocks of interest for Irish fishermen, which are jointly managed with the UK.


Minister McConalogue said: “The EU negotiations with the UK on setting quotas for 2023 are at an advanced stage and I made use of the opportunities at the Fisheries Council to work with fellow Ministers. I also continued my discussions with Commissioner Sinkevičiusto ensure that Ireland’s priorities are protected.  My objective has been to set quotas based on scientific advice and rebuild depleted and overfished stocks. In general, I want our fishers to have access to the maximum level of quota that can be sustainably fished, whilst taking account of the complex nature of mixed fisheries.  As the negotiations are almost complete, I am satisfied that the agreement will deliver on this objective.  We have positive advice on a number of our critical commercial stocks including Spurdog, Nephrops, Celtic Sea Monkfish, Hake and Megrim and North-west Haddock and Whiting.  I am satisfied, following the work done over recent days that we will deliver quotas that follow the increases advised by the science.   I am also supporting cuts where these are needed to reduce fishing pressure on stocks and restricted catch limits for depleted stocks.”

The Fisheries Council adopted provisional quotas for the first three months of 2023 as the EU/UK agreement is not finalised. These quotas will support fishing at the beginning of the year.  The Minister said: “I do not expect we will need these provisional quotas but they are an insurance policy to provide certainty for our fishers.”

The Minister also said: “Negotiations with Norway were suspended. The atmosphere for these negotiations was negatively impacted at European level by Norway’s recent fisheries discussions with Russia.  My main issue of concern remains that Member States who benefit from an agreement with Norway pay their fair share in quota transfers.  I am working to limit the transfer of Blue Whiting and keep it at no more than 4% of the Blue Whiting global Total Allowable Catch (TAC).  I am also working closely with Commissioner Sinkevičius to restrict access for the Norwegian fleet to the Irish zone and in particular the area within 50 miles of the Irish coast.  I expect that negotiations will re-open soon and I am satisfied that Ireland’s key concerns are clearly understood and will be protected.”



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