The EU Fisheries Council meet in Brussels today, where quotas for the Irish fleet for 2018 will be determined and quotas expected to be cut significantly.
Many Member states across the continent have joined in a pledge to an EU marina law, in a bid to save and protect waters by 2020. These promises have yet to be fulfilled, with many ecosystems destroyed. Reports suggest that over 40% of fish stocks in the North East Atlantic are currently being overfished, whilst 90% of stocks in the Mediterranean are said to be overfished. This is being blamed on ministers putting fishing quotas too high, and it is hoped this conference will change that.
Many fish are often discarded as waste, which led to a discard bean being introduced in 2014. Currently, just under 10% of seas are under protection, though scientists have recommended 30% be protected. That is the aim of this conference, to push through with plans to protect more seas. But what does this all mean for Irelands fisheries sector?
Creed expresses worries:
Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, expressed his concern at the significant quota cuts to many of Ireland’s key fisheries ahead of the meeting today. He said that while he accepted cuts were needed to protect the sustainability of stocks, long-term, that some cuts were avoidable based on scientific advice.
“We are facing severe cuts to a number of important fish stocks of importance to Ireland such as herring, hake, haddock, whiting and monkfish amongst others.” he said.
“The proposals from the Commission are being driven by the legal requirement that we reach maximum sustainable yield (MSY) for all stocks as soon as possible and by 2020 at the latest. Ireland fully supports this objective but I am concerned that, for some stocks, at least, we can take a more modulated approach. “ Creed added.
The minister then said the Commission must take into account the economic impacts of these cuts on coastal regions.
“The Commission must also take into account the socio-economic impacts of the proposed cuts on our coastal communities and accept adjustments to its proposals where the impact is severe. ” he said.
The Commission have proposed to cut Haddock quotas by -34%, Whiting by -59%%, Monkfish by -12%, %, Hake by -19% and Herring by -62%. Minister Creed said the level of these cuts is “extremely worrying”.
“I presented the scale and implications of these cuts to the Oireachtas on the 28th of November. The level of cuts proposed for a number of fish stocks of crucial importance to Ireland are extremely worrying. “ said Creed.
“What is really worrying to me is that some of these cuts are based on an overly narrow interpretation of the available scientific advice or are not implementing MSY on a phased basis where there is a strong socio-economic case to do so.” he added.
The Minister will attend the EU Fisheries Council in Brussels from the 11th to the 12th of December, where quotas for the Irish fleet for 2018 will be determined.
Creed continued by admitting he understands the difficulties involved in any negotiations over cut quotas and said he is extremely worried.
“This is my second December Fisheries Council and I am under no illusions as to how difficult the negotiations will be. I am extremely worried that despite our collective efforts we face a challenging task in delivering a balanced package of quotas that will support the fishing sector and the coastal communities dependant on fishing. I will work as hard as I can with industry and other stakeholders, as well as key Member State partners such as France, the UK and Spain, to get the best possible outcome.” he concluded.
Many celebrities have joined in arms to fight overfishing, by carrying out a naked campaign. This included: Imelda Staunton, Jessie Buckley, Bobby George and Rula Lenska, to name a few, with pictures posted in the Sunday Times.
Florence Keith-Roach, posed with a European eel, and said that over 98% of its populations are gone due to overfishing. She called on the EU member states to support a ban on eel fishing.