Difficult outcome for Irish Sea fisheries

Date published: 18 December 2019

The Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) today commented on the outcome of the 2019 December Fisheries Council in Brussels.

Speaking after the 2020 quotas were agreed, a Department spokesperson said: “The achievement of the 2020 Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) objective dominated the Council with very difficult discussions about some key fish stocks. In the Irish Sea most stocks are already being fished at MSY levels and quotas were set in compliance with management plans and MSY.  However this does mean that for several stocks there will be reduced quotas in 2020.

“Overall the sustainability of Irish Sea fisheries is improving and this is down to much hard work and co-operation involving local fishermen, the Agri-food and Biosciences Institute, and DAERA. The adoption of innovative stock conservation measures to reduce catches of unwanted fish will ensure that our fisheries are productive and profitable for future generations.

“Scientific evidence submitted by the Department and AFBI led to a rational quota being set for Irish Sea cod. This means that vessels catching cod as a by-catch can fish normally whilst still contributing to cod recovery.

“Sole is recovering and fishing mortality continues to be at sustainable levels. The stock biomass is expected to rise above MSY in the short term.

“Irish Sea whiting remains problematic, but fishing mortality is falling and the quota limit for 2020 should lead to an increase in the stock over the longer term.

“All other Irish Sea stocks and Area 7 prawns are being fished at MSY levels for both fishing mortality and stock size.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. The December Fisheries Council which agrees fishing opportunities for 2020 took place from 16-17 December in Brussels.
  2. Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook.
  3. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or via email. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.

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