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Minister Killeen Welcomes the Agreement on a 33% Increase in Mackerel Catch for 2009

The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Tony Killeen TD, has welcomed the conclusions of the fisheries consultations between the Faroe Islands, Norway and the European Community on the management of mackerel in the North-East Atlantic for 2009.

These negotiations, attended by Ireland, were conducted over two days, October 30th-31st at the Headquarters of the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission in London.

The Minister noted the significant agreement to an increase in Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of approximately 33% allowed for in the agreement. The resultant net increase in quota, which should be confirmed at the December Fisheries Council, for Ireland for 2009 (after deductions for payback for undeclared landings) should be in the region of 62,000 tonnes up from 45,500 tonnes in 2008. These figures may be subject to minor change as a result of some complex transfer arrangements.

The Minister said: "The mackerel fishery is of major importance to the Irish pelagic fishing fleet and I am delighted with the outcome of the negotiations and the likelihood of a quota increase of 16,500 tonnes of Mackerel for Irish Fishermen for 2009. This increase is generally recognised in Europe and in Norway as in large part resulting from improved control and enforcement with fishermen sticking more strictly to the quotas in this fishery in recent years. I welcome this reward for Irish Fishermen for the sustainable fishing practices evident in this fishery in recent years."

The Minister added that "in value terms this level of overall Irish quota for Mackerel is likely to be worth about €75 million directly to the fishing fleet in 2009, an increase of some €20m relative to 2008. Critically, the increased quota should also enable increased processing activity and employment in Irish Fish factories and this will add significantly to the value generated for Ireland from the Quota increase".

Minister Killeen also supported the new arrangements for the future long-term management of the stock and the measures being developed to reduce the level of discards in the fishery and improve control methods.

The Minister went on to say that "these arrangements are crucial for the long term sustainability of the mackerel stock and in conjunction with recent improvements in control measures are creating a stable environment for the determination of TAC's and quotas into the future"

On the question of the bilateral agreement between the European Communities and Norway the Minister reiterated the strong position taken by Ireland at the October Fisheries Council that "Ireland will not accept any suggestion that mackerel could be used to balance the overall fisheries agreement between the European Community and Norway".

Date Released: 04 November 2008