Wednesday 16 April 2014

Fish quotas up but consumer favourites face cuts

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney

FISHERMEN will be allowed to increase the overall amount of fish landed next year, but they must reduce the catch of some consumer favourites which they land.

Marine minister Simon Coveney said he achieved the best deal possible for Irish fishermen by securing a €260m quota for 2014.

Irish trawlers will be able to land 270,077 tonnes of catch next year following "long and difficult negotiations" in Brussels, Mr Coveney announced.

The value of the package is 2pc greater than last year's €255m, he said.

However, it includes substantial cuts to consumer favourites haddock, whiting and cod.

Fishermen operating in the Celtic Sea are faced with quota reductions of 33pc for haddock and cod and a 22pc reduction for whiting.

Mr Coveney said it had been originally proposed to reduce the quantities by 75pc.

While Mr Coveney trumpeted the result as "a good outcome", Fianna Fail said the increase was not enough.

The party's marine spokesman, John Browne, told the Irish Independent: "A 2pc increase will not meet the needs of fishermen next year anywhere on the coastline and it will not help fishing businesses to expand and develop and create jobs."

There was also bad new for lovers of Dublin Bay prawns, which have been hit with a 9pc quota cut. The move could lead to a price hike. At the outset of the EU Fisheries Council talks, Mr Coveney said he originally faced a 24pc cut in the Irish Sea quotas for nephrops, also known as Dublin Bay prawns.

"I was very concerned about the effect that the proposed 24pc cut would have had on the prawn fleet and negotiated a substantial reduction," Mr Coveney said.

He said quotas for hake and monkfish have been increased significantly. "We have also secured increased quotas for herring mackerel, boarfish and blue whiting," Mr Coveney said.

He added that, after expressing his concerns that the reduction would result in widespread quota driven discarding of adult fish, the haddock quota in the Celtic Sea will be reduced by 33pc, rather than 75pc.

"I can assure you we have secured the maximum commercial value from fish stocks for the fishing industry while taking responsible decisions to protect vulnerable stocks where appropriate," he added.

Irish Independent

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