Minister Charlie McConalogue TD, has welcomed the agreement on provisional EU fish quotas
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue TD, today confirmed that agreement has been reached at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council to set provisional quotas for EU fishermen in line with scientific advice for fish stocks for the period up to 31 July 2021.
The Minister stated, “Our ambition is to achieve a satisfactory conclusion of the negotiations between EU and UK on setting TACs and quotas for the full year for the stocks shared with the UK. These consultations are ongoing and have not yet been concluded. In the meantime, this is a practical measure to provide continuity for our fishing fleets, because the existing interim quotas expire at the end of March.”
At the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers in December last year, Minsters agreed to set interim Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas for the first quarter of 2021, pending the outcome of the negotiations on a future relationship with the UK.
The European Commission, on behalf of the EU, has been engaged in consultations with the UK on setting fishing opportunities for shared stocks for 2021 since early February. While progress is being made in these consultations and an agreement with the UK has not to date been reached, setting provisional TACs and quotas for EU fishermen for seven months will provide certainty and continuity for the fishing industry.
The Minister said, “I am hopeful that the negotiations with the UK will be finalised shortly, but even the best estimates would not have the full year quotas in place by the end of March. As soon as the consultations with the UK are complete, I will be seeking to have Council adopt the EU quotas for the full year without delay.”
In line with the EU / UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement, these provisional quotas for 7 months will follow scientific advice. The Council agreed increases in the provisional quotas for important stocks such as Monkfish in Area 7 (+8%) and Nephrops in the Porcupine Bank (+25%), compared to 2020. The provisional quota for the pollock stocks has remained at the level set for the first three months reflecting the precautionary advice from ICES.
For pelagic species, including Mackerel, Arctic herring and Blue Whiting, the full twelve-month quotas have been agreed by Council.
The Minister said, “I am pleased with the outcome of the consultations with Norway in respect of Blue Whiting. The ICES advice is for a 20% cut in this stock and this advice is being followed. I took a strong line internally in the EU in relation to the recently concluded EU negotiations with Norway. As a result, EU negotiated successfully to reduce the customary transfer of this stock to Norway. This reduced transfer of EU Blue Whiting to Norway has resulted in the necessary scientific cut to the Total Allowable Catch being significantly mitigated. As a result Ireland’s quota has been reduced by only 8%, giving us a quota of 35,373 tonnes. The level of transfer of EU Blue Whiting to Norway for 2021 has been set at the lowest transfer level we have seen and represents a recognition at EU level of the need to use every opportunity to improve the situation for our pelagic fleet.”
The Minister welcomed the progress that had been made to date in the EU-UK consultations. He added, “It is encouraging that the UK are engaging in these consultations in a pragmatic and cooperative way. An agreement with the UK would provide much needed certainty to our fishing industry. An agreement with the UK must be fair and balanced and provide a level playing field in order to protect the long-term sustainability of our shared stocks and our fishing industry.”
Source: Press Release