Following two days of tough negotiations in Brussels, Fisheries Minister Michelle McIlveen has commented on the outcome of the 2016 December Fisheries Council.
Speaking after Council the Minister said: “This is a positive result for our fishing industry. The original Commission proposal was for a 9% cut to the Nephrops catch but this was reversed during negotiations. As a consequence our local fleet will benefit from an 8.6% uplift on the 2016 quota which is worth an additional £1.43million to the UK fleet. I was able to assure the Commission that this posed no risk to the sustainability of the fishery and our arguments were supported by robust scientific work provided by AFBI (Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute).
“This stock is hugely important to our main offshore fishing fleet based in the County Down ports of Portavogie, Ardglass, and Kilkeel. Around 100 vessels are involved in the prawn fishery and this outcome means that they will have around 7,200 tonnes of the UK quota which is worth £15m. Local fish processors will have an increased supply of raw material for their range of scampi products that are marketed throughout the UK.
“It was helpful that this Council did not need to haggle over the number of days that fishing boats could spend fishing thanks to amendments to the Cod Recovery Plan successfully negotiated by my colleague Diane Dodds MEP earlier this year. Unfortunately the Commission had made an initial proposal for a zero cod catch as the stock is still recovering. I convinced the Commission that it needed to set a TAC that acknowledged the unavoidable catches of cod in the prawn fishery. This continues to be kept to a minimum through the fleet’s use of fishing nets that are designed to allow cod to escape. I welcome the fact that the Commission agreed to maintain the total allowable catch for cod at 2016 levels – the first time for more than a decade that this stock has not experienced a cut.
“Leading up to the Council I met with the EU Commissioner on two occasions to explain the strong scientific evidence supporting a significant increase in our Irish Sea haddock quota. I am pleased that our position has been acknowledged with a 25% increase on last year’s quota which is worth an additional £220,000. In addition the Commission has agreed through a formal statement to revisit this TAC and for Irish Sea herring, cod, whiting and plaice following the review of fisheries science for these stocks which will happen in February.”
Notes to editors:
- The December Fisheries Council which agrees fishing opportunities for 2017 took place from 12-13 December in Brussels.
- Area VII comprises the Irish Sea, Celtic Sea and waters west of Ireland
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