THE Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed TD recently attended the EU Fisheries Council where he made clear the need to find solutions for mixed fisheries as the discards ban is being delivered to protect fishing communities.
The Minister also met the Mr Alain Vidalies, the French Fisheries Minister to discuss issues of common concern in advance of the December Council setting quotas for 2017.
Speaking at Council the Minister said that “he supports the discard ban which will end the wasteful practice of discarding marketable fish and young (juvenile) fish which are the future of our fisheries”.
The mixed fisheries in the waters around Ireland – including the Celtic Sea, the Irish Sea and off the north west coast provide difficult challenges for fishermen as the introduction of the discards ban is rolled out. The discards ban, whereby all fish caught must be landed, will apply to all fish stocks subject to quota from 2019.
The Minister also explained to Council that the new discards policy means that vessels may be required to stop fishing early in the year once Ireland’s quota for the most limiting stock in their mixed catch is exhausted.
Minister Creed said, “this situation is not acceptable to me. We must find solutions within the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) framework that will support the continuation of fisheries while protecting vulnerable stocks. This will require intensive work involving Member States in the region, fishermen and other stakeholders together with the EU Commission over the coming two years. We must support fishermen to make use of more selective fishing gears and practices. We must also find solutions that practically support the discards ban and make use of all available flexibilities.”
Similar concerns were outlined by other Member States with fishing fleets and there was a strong commitment to work intensively and imaginatively to address the complex issues that arises from the discards ban.
On the margins of the Council meeting, Minister Creed held a bilateral meeting with his French counterpart, Mr Alain Vidalies, to prepare for the December Fisheries Council.
Minister Creed said “Ireland has many shared fisheries with France and we have common interests in delivering sustainable fisheries for our fleets at the December Fisheries Council. We focused our discussion on the fisheries in the Celtic Sea and in particular the concern about the 67% cut in the cod quota proposed by the EU Commission. This cut would have serious socio-economic implications for both countries. We agreed that we will examine all options that may allow us to make a scientific case for a more modest cut in the quota, including if additional conservation measures may be appropriate to help re-build this stock.”
The bilateral also discussed the scallop fishery in the English Channel, where there is a small but important Irish interest, and both sides agreed to promote increased engagement by their fleets to implement conservation measures, including if required introducing measures at EU level.
Day Two (Tuesday) of the Agriculture Fisheries Council will focus on Agriculture issues where the Commission will present the findings of the Agricultural Markets Taskforce and its own report on the cumulative impact of free trade agreements. Ministers will also have the opportunity to discuss the future of CAP post 2020.