Minister hails rise in prawns quota
An agreement with European officials to secure a bigger prawn catch for Irish fishermen has been hailed as a common-sense deal.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney said he had negotiated a U-turn on plans to slash the quota for the sector after two days of talks in Brussels.
However, fears over cod and sole stocks in the Irish Sea and haddock off the south coast will force some fishermen to dramatically cut the amount of the fish they can bring ashore.
Mr Coveney said it is a good deal for the Irish fishing industry.
"My primary aim from the outset was to achieve an outcome that protected the overall interests of the Irish fishing industry while respecting the most up-to-date scientific advice for key stocks of critical importance to our fleets," he said. "I believe that I have achieved that aim."
The outcomes achieved for 2013 include a reversal of plans to significantly cut the prawn quota and instead secure a 6% increase for the Irish Sea fleet.
"I am delighted that common sense eventually prevailed and that a cut was averted," Mr Coveney said.
In total, 216,300 tonnes of fish quotas worth 213 million euro will be available to Irish fishermen in 2013. The Irish Fish Producers' Organisation said there was good and bad news in the deal.
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine said the value and tonnage of the white fish quota would remain at last year's level, worth 114 million euro.
Elsewhere, interim quotas worth 100 million euro have been set for most pelagic stocks, including mackerel and herring, pending negotiations between the EU and Norway in the new year. The prawn quota is worth about 50 million euro.