The Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation believes the outcome of the AGRIFISH Council is acceptable but believe there is still much left to do
Additional mackerel secured as KFO CEO gives guarded welcome to conclusion of talks
The CEO of the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation, Seán O’Donoghue has given a guarded welcome to the Fisheries Council talks which have concluded in Brussels this morning (Tuesday).
Mr O’Donoghue said he was pleased that the talks had regained some of their raison d’être with decisions on many TACs (Total Allowable Catches) and quota between Norway and the UK having concluded ahead of the Fisheries Council, unlike the last three years when it had been done in reverse.
Speaking post-Council, Mr O’Donoghue said: “We’ve secured an increase in one of our key stocks, mackerel and while it’s wholly merited and overdue, it doesn’t undo the woeful impact which Brexit has had on our pelagic fisheries with a hit of up to 25% on our bottom line on this stock alone. We’ll therefore continue our campaign of ‘burden sharing’ with gusto whereby all coastal member states share the pain of Brexit equally and proportionally.
“For pelagic stocks, the outcome is predominantly favourable notwithstanding the 9% reduction in mackerel when the Brexit effect is taken into account. We’ve secured a 23% increase in blue whiting, a 20% increase in boarfish, a 20% increase in North West herring, a 17% increase in albacore tuna and finally a 23% reduction in Atlanto Scandia herring.
“The Commission has also provided assurance that the issue of the massive overfishing of mackerel by Norway and the Faroes in the Northeast Atlantic which is jeopardising the sustainable management of the stock is a priority. I’ve put on record that we are already paying the price with a 5% cut for 2024 instead of a 10-20% increase had the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) advice been followed in recent years.
“Moreover, we’ve reached agreement on a TAC for cod in the North West area 6a for the first time since 2011 as well as reductions in the balance transfer and access for blue whiting in the EU/Norway agreement.
“For the most part, the news is also positive for whitefish stocks in the North West with a very significant increase of just over 60 % in haddock in 6a.
“Similarly, the Commission has committed to a change in horse mackerel which will happen if the benchmark for the stock for the first quarter of 2024 is significantly revised. The Commission will have to negotiate directly with the UK on this issue.
“The reductions and by-catches for certain whitefish in the Celtic Sea – off the south coast – namely cod, haddock and whiting as well as pollock in the South and Northwest is a significant concern to us and will undoubtedly have socio-economic consequences further down the road.
“As expected and in an arrangement which dates back to 1983, ‘The Hague Preferences’ were delivered – which see Ireland getting elevated quotas for a number of key species.
“Finally, I would also like to acknowledge the commitment and efforts of Minister McConalogue and his officials and while there’s a long way to go to regain the fish that we want, this does represent a positive step,” concluded Mr O’Donoghue.
Source: Press Release