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Alarm bells instead of Christmas bells for Irish quotas

As predicted by the IFSA last week, its beginning to dawn on everyone that Ireland is unbelievably facing even more cuts at the December Council meeting.

In a statement issued by the KFO today (December 9th) concern is being expressed ahead of the annual meeting of the Council of Fisheries Ministers which commences in Brussels this weekend.

It believes that an industry already in a state of heightened anxiety regarding Brexit losses is again an impossible situation since the real decisions impacting Irish fisheries for 2022 and beyond, are being taken at separate negotiations between the EU and UK.

The Commission is likely to propose provisional TACs and quota figures for next year as this is a result of the fact that Ireland is awaiting the outcome of EU/UK bilateral negotiations which affect 75 shared fish stocks, most of which are crucial to the Irish fleet.

The PO says that based on past experience, the industry shouldn’t be holding its breath that these bilaterals will have wrapped up in time to give Council the necessary data with which to make final TACs and quotas for next year.

The more probable scenario is that the Council will set provisional TACs and quotas. This is totally unsatisfactory and caused a major problem for our fishing sector last year with the final figures published seven months into the year. Further compounding this, Ireland had the huge impact of Brexit on our key stocks. It is of critical importance that what happened in 2021 is not repeated for 2022.

Seasonal fisheries such as mackerel, horse mackerel, blue whiting and boarfish are predominantly worked in the first quarter of the year so instructing fishermen that they can only catch a certain percentage of their allocations during ‘peak season,’ is neither credible nor realistic.

Their is also concern in relation to a number of whitefish stocks given the scientific advice being presented to EU and UK negotiators and the impact the trilateral negotiations EU/Norway/UK could have on significantly decreasing the TAC for haddock in Northwest where an increase of 125% is expected.

Meanwhile the Irish pelagic industry has requested immediate action by the Commission to urge Norway and the Faroe Islands to stop the massive and “reckless” overfishing of mackerel in the Northeast Atlantic which is jeopardizing the sustainable management of the stock.

Finally, the Council must be made aware that Ireland will continue to demand justice on the issue of ‘burden sharing’ amongst the Member States post Brexit to rectify the appalling situation whereby Irish fishermen were saddled with 40% of the EU’s fisheries loss to Britain.

A recent fleet report from the Commission’s own Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee on Fisheries (STECF) has confirmed these figures are correct.

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