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Coveney: Difficult negotiations ahead on foot of EU Commission proposals for 2013 Fish Quotas

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, presented to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine today a Sustainability Impact Assessment of the EU Commission proposals for Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas for 2013. 

The TACs and quotas will be decided at the December EU Fisheries Council on 18 to 20th December. The Sea Fisheries Sustainability Impact Assessment has been carried out in line with the commitment in the Programme for Government and is now publicly available on www.fishingnet.ie. The Sustainability Impact Statement, which has been prepared by the Department working with the Marine Institute and BIM, reviews all the stocks of importance to Ireland taking account of the scientific advice on the stocks. The Impact Assessment acknowledges that while many stocks in which the Irish fleet have an interest are not in a healthy biological state, there has been an improvement in 2012 on the state of fish stocks.

Minister Coveney said "I welcome the comprehensive review of the state of fish stocks of importance to Ireland which has been carried out by the Marine Institute. Of the 59 stocks in which Ireland has a share of the EU TAC, 42% are now fished  sustainably compared to 36% in 2011. The state of the resource base in terms of the biomass,  the population of mature fish in the stock,  has also improved. The number of depleted stocks has declined from 12 to 8. It is good to see progress on delivering sustainable fishing. Further efforts are needed both in terms of setting TAC levels and also taking other measures such as reducing catches of juvenile fish and dealing with unacceptable levels of discards. These issues  will be a priority for me during the Irish Presidency work programme on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy in the first half of 2013".

The statement also sets down the economic importance of stocks and the likely impacts of the Commission’s proposals from a socio-economic perspective. Minister Coveney said “It is very clear from the analysis undertaken by BIM that the current proposals would have significant consequences on our fishing industry and our dependant coastal communities. Potentially there is a loss of approximately €15.5m for our whitefish and prawn fishing industry as well as knock on effects for processors and hauliers etc. This equates to losses in the order of €53m for coastal communities where the direct cost and indirect costs (processing, net making etc) are taken into account”.  

Minister Coveney added “We must continue to ensure that the state of fish stocks is not compromised and the scientific advice provided informs decisions on TACs and quotas for 2013.   I will work in close consultation with the fishing industry and other stakeholders during the December Fisheries Council to deliver quotas for Ireland that involve reductions only where justified and that a rational and prudent account is taken of the available scientific information to inform the Council’s decisions”.

Date Released: 06 December 2012