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"Record Outcome for Ireland at EU Fisheries Negotiations" - Coveney

Immediate reopening of Irish Sea Prawn Fishery

Total Value of 2012 Fishing Opportunities Reaches Record-level of €250 million

Following the conclusion of lengthy and complex EU fisheries negotiations the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, said "I am delighted at the outcome of these negotiations which delivered my key priorities and will allow the Irish fishing fleet to look forward to 2012 with optimism.  The measures agreed in these negotiations will maximise employment and economic activity in our coastal communities." The Minister said that he had secured "141,000 tonnes of pelagic and tuna quotas and 36,000 tonnes of whitefish.  I am satisfied that this will provide an excellent range of opportunities for our fishing industry in 2012."

Minister Coveney was speaking after three days of intensive negotiations, which concluded in the early hours of this morning.  The Minister described the Council as “very challenging” and said that "my priority from the outset was to achieve an outcome that protected the Irish fishing industry while respecting the most up-to-date scientific data for priority stocks of critical importance to our fleets."

Mr Coveney described the reopening of the Irish Sea prawn fishery as "a very significant hard-won achievement, which will allow Irish fishing vessels to return to this important fishery immediately." This fishery had been closed in mid-October and was due to remain closed until 1 February 2012 but will now reopen after Minister Coveney secured additional fishing effort entitlements for the Irish fleet.

The Minister highlighted the agreement on total allowable catches (TACs) and quotas in 2012 on a number of species of particular economic importance to the Irish industry including the agreement to maintain quotas of prawns in the Irish Sea and off the south and south-west coasts.  This fishery is estimated to be worth €52 million in 2012.

Mr Coveney said that "there is very good news for the fisheries along the south coast". The Irish quota for cod in the Celtic Sea is increasing by 77 per cent.  He said that the Commission accepted the strong case he made for an increase in quotas for haddock and whiting in the Celtic Sea of 25 per cent and 15 per cent respectively which the Minister said "were entirely justified on the scientific data which I presented to the Commission." The original Commission proposal was for a 25 per cent reduction in both stocks. The Minister said that the increases in these quotas would be worth an extra €3.5 to the south coast fishing industry.  In addition, this morning's agreement ensures that quotas for Pollock and Saithe in the Celtic Sea will remain at existing levels next year.  A very positive element in securing the future of these fisheries was the commitment to adopt new measures to reduce discarding of small fish in the Celtic Sea.

In addition, the Irish quota for Celtic Sea herring is increasing from 11,407 tonnes to 18,236 tonnes, a 60 per cent increase.  "These are valuable quota increases and will support additional onshore employment in the processing industry." The Minister noted this increase was due to conservation measures in the Celtic Sea and responsible conservation management in recent years in partnership with the industry.

The Minister also negotiated a very significant increase in the Irish quota of 155 per cent for the spring Boarfish fishery off the south-west coast.  This quota, which the Minister described as "a new and very exciting fishery" will increase from 22,227 tonnes to 56,666 tonnes.

There is a very significant increase of 200 per cent in the haddock quota off Donegal.  There is also agreement that the Commission would bring forward new rules by the middle of February to assist catching of this greatly increased quota.

Mr Coveney recognised the position in relation to cod in the Irish Sea and accepted the proposal to reduce the TAC for 2012 by 25 per cent. "This approach is consistent with scientific advice and adherence with the Long Term Management Plan, which is designed to ensure that the stock recovers to sustainable levels in the future. This is vitally important from both an industry and conservation perspective."

The important €9 million quota for the Albocore Tuna summer fishery, off the south-west coast, has been increased by 342 tonnes to 3,896 tonnes for 2012.  The Blue Whiting quota for the spring fishery, off the north-west coast, has increased from 1,187 tonnes this year to 7,498 tonnes for 2012.

From the outset of the negotiations an absolute priority for Ireland was the satisfactory application of the Hague Preferences, which are of crucial, political economic importance for this country and have been successfully protected.

Finally, Mr Coveney said he was satisfied that Ireland had achieved what was necessary in this year's negotiations to provide significant opportunities for the fishing industry and coastal communities around the country and will protect our fishing stocks for future sustainability.

Note to the Editor

Hague Preferences: The Hague Preferences were agreed in 1976 by Heads of Stage. They guaranteed Ireland minimum quantities of key stocks in our waters and was the payment made for Ireland granting access to rich fishing waters to other Member States and taking on the heavy duty of control of these waters.

*Please see table attached*

Summary Quota Situation for Irish Fishermen for 2012 - Table (xls 29Kb) 

Date Released: 17 December 2011