Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue has welcomed an agreement between the EU and UK on fishing opportunities for shared fish stocks for 2023, saying it provides for greater certainty and stability.
However, industry representatives say it’s time for a fairer deal. They want the government and the EU to address what they’ve described as the massive disparity in Ireland’s share of EU fishing quotas.
They’re also concerned Norway was seeking more access to Irish Blue Whiting stocks as part of a proposal that wasn’t accepted by the EU.
Minister McConalogue says the conclusion of the EU-UK negotiations allows quotas to be set for the full year, with increases in the quotas for some of Ireland’s most important commercial stocks including Prawns, Hake and North-west Haddock and Whiting.
He says the reopening of the Spurdog fishery is significant, and concludes the final agreement respects the scientific advice and supports the rebuilding of overfished stocks.
However, the industry is far from happy, .
Brendan Byrne of the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association says the industryb as at a critical point, with Brexit and a disastrous quota deal for Irish fishing, in which Spain is allowed to catch more fish in Irish waters then the Irish fleet
He added it is profoundly shocking that the EU would even consider granting Norway unfettered access to Irish waters, without a comparable dividend to Ireland after the Norwegian fleet sought more concessions in discussions on a potential new deal.
That has been rejected by the EU.
Minister’s Statement –
McConalogue welcomes agreement on full year fish quotas for 2023
Quotas for Spur dog and North West Herring a welcome development for fishing communities
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, T.D., welcomed the agreement between the EU and UK on fishing opportunities for shared fish stocks for 2023.
Minister McConalogue said: “The conclusion of the EU-UK negotiations before the 20 December deadline set out in the EU-UK Trade & Co-operation Agreement allows Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas to be set for the full year. Most of Ireland’s commercial fish stocks are shared with the UK and the successful conclusion of this agreement will provide greater certainty and stability for our fleet as we enter 2023.”
The Minister added: “There will be increases in the quotas for some of Ireland’s most important commercial stocks including Prawns (nephrops), Celtic Sea Monkfish, Hake and Megrim and North-west Haddock and Whiting. Restricted, by-catch only quotas have been set for some vulnerable stocks caught in mixed fisheries including cod stocks around the coast and for the Horse Mackerel stock to help these stocks recover. Throughout the negotiations, I have worked closely with Commissioner Sinkevičius to ensure that Ireland’s priorities are protected. I am satisfied that the final agreement respects the scientific advice and supports the rebuilding of overfished stocks.”
Minister McConalogue said: “The reopening of the spurdog fishery, after it was closed for over ten years to rebuild that stock, provides a great opportunity for our inshore fishers who traditionally participated in this fishery. In addition, the North West Herring fishery will be re-opened as a commercial fishery. This fishery was closed, other than for the collection of data for scientific purposes, since 2015. We are seeing the positive results of taking necessary tough action when needed. It will be important that we manage all these fish stocks in order to continue to build on the progress that has been made to date.”
The Minister concluded: “Having the full year’s TACs and quotas in place will allow me to make decisions on and allocate quotas for the full year and enable fishers to plan their activities for the year ahead.”
Industry statement –
Fishing Industry Call for Fairer Deal for Ireland in 2023
Now is the time for the Irish Government and the EU to address the massive disparity in Ireland’s share of EU fishing quotas. That’s according to sector representatives, who say Ireland’s fishing industry has suffered massive negative impacts from EU membership, compared to other sectors of our economy.
“We welcomed the breakdown of Norway’s recent attempts to secure unfettered access to our blue whiting grounds from the EU,” says Aodh O Donnell of the Irish Fish Producers Organisation (IFPO). “We also welcomed the Minister for the Marine’s commitment to resist the Norwegian overtures. We note that Norway has now secured a deal for blue whiting with Russia.”
“But the whole blue whiting row has underlined an appalling attitude at EU level towards Ireland’s fishing industry. The EU has never delivered an equitable share of fishing rights to Ireland. This has been compounded over the decades by our Government’s failure to secure a fair deal for our fishing industry.”
Brendan Byrne of the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association (IFPEA) says we are at “a critical point in our fishing industry. Brexit and the disastrous TCA deal for Irish fishing has left an industry that is struggling to survive. That EU deal created a 40% loss in the value of our permitted catch, compared to just 6% for Spain – who are allowed to catch more fish in our waters then we are.”
“When you consider this context, it is profoundly shocking that the EU would even consider granting Norway unfettered access to Irish waters, without a comparable dividend to Ireland. The Government urgently need to make it abundantly clear, that the historical arrangements between the EU and Norway will be honoured. However, they must also make clear that any new or additional access south of the 56 degree line or east of the 12 degree line must be dealt with separately and with consideration for the Irish.”
“For too long Ireland’s fishing industry has suffered or paid a price to accommodate others, while all the time our own fishing industry declines. This is where we say no more and no further – the very life blood has been long drawn from the Irish fishing industry we need to take a stand here.”
“Ireland will play the part of good Europeans but that is a two-way process. We also need to be respected and treated fairly by our EU colleagues as equal members of this union of states.”
Patrick Murphy Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation (IS&WFPO) says Marine Minister, Charlie McConalogue has now shown determination at EU level to reduce the EU Transfer of Blue Whiting quotas to Norway. ‘’It is vital that the Minister maintains this position and secures a meaningful transfer of quota to Ireland from this third country, and as a compensatory measure, in lieu of access to our waters Blue whiting in Irish waters is valued at an estimated €100-€120m for 2023. Ireland currently has just 3% of the EU allowable quota for blue whiting, while Norway already has 18% and were seeking more from our waters.
Aodh O’Donnell says fishing bodies pulled together to fight the Norway blue whiting plans. “The EU clearly expected Ireland to just roll over and accept this appalling proposal, and did not expect our vociferous and effective opposition. We must continue to pull together to benefit our members and the nation’s fishing industry.”
“We want to work closely with the Minister for the Marine and the EU in 2023 to secure a better deal for Ireland. There are serious issues involved here. There is the survival of the Irish fishing fleet and the coastal communities who depend on them. There is the issue of food security and Ireland’s supply of fresh fish.”
O Donnell says the hits our seafood sector has taken over the past few decades has “reduced its value to the Irish economy. It’s time now to work collaboratively to turn this around so Ireland can more equitably and sustainably benefit from the ocean resource that surrounds our island.”