Is the EU Commission making quota allocation decisions based on politically motivated?
Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation CEO, Patrick Murphy has questioned whether the EU Commission are making decisions about quota allocations based on political motivations or on the scientific advice from ICES.
Mr Murphy pointed out several discrepancies in the in the assignment of quotas and on the allocation of quota for ‘choke species’, with a huge imbalance between Member States in certain Areas in Irish waters.
One of the other issues has been highlighted is the cut in northern hake. On the issue Mr Murphy said:
“For the last number of years, three at least, there has been a decrease in the catches, the volume being caught. We have consistently fished for the last two years under the MSY, we have seen a stable and regular recruitment since 2016, and we have seen the biomass of the stock increasing in the last two to three years.
“All the indicators that you would associate with scientific advice would mean that there’s a recovery in the stock and that it’s better on the increase. Yet, we’ve seen two years of cuts, which is nearly a third of the hake quota cut, despite what the science is saying.
“The reasoning is that retrospectively there was some information that they overestimated, and my question is, when does that overestimation be balanced?
“Now, if there was an overestimation, you’d think in one year with the data that’s being shown, you would correct that. That the year classes from the year that was under recorded would recuperate as the years move on. But now we see the second cut. So, this information that we’re not being given, will we see a third cut despite the indicators that we’re getting from ICES who say that this stock is in recovery, we’re below the MSY catch rates, the biomass of the stock, because is increasing, there’s more of them there and the recruitment is steady and stable. So, for anybody in the Commission to turn around then and say that we can trust the science and that science is going to give us an increase in the stocks. What information are they privy to that we’re not?
“And are they actually going off the science?
“Is this political decision-making or is it science making decisions? We see the same with the multi-annual plans with havoc in the Celtic Sea where they decide that under multi-annual plans, it decides to bycatch of the Cod fishery.
“In other words, the more haddock you catch, the more cod, you need to be able to catch the haddock otherwise you would go past the safe measures.
“So, for example in the Celtic Sea the percentages are, France has 67% of the haddock quota, which is around 7,239 tonnes. Ireland has 22% at 2,400 tonnes. Yet France have only 36% of the cod quota, which is 294 tonnes and Ireland have 57% of the cod which is 461 tonnes. So that means they would have to catch one ton of cod with 241 tonnes of haddock ahead, whereas Ireland catches one tonne of cod for every 52 tons of haddock.
“How can another country be able to catch five times the amount of haddock per ton cod that we can?
“There’s huge questions here. So, I don’t know what the Commission are looking at and what I’m looking at, but that’s just two examples.”