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EU & NE ATLANTIC COASTAL STATES - TIME FOR EU TO GET TOUGH WITH NORDIC NATIONS



The Nordic states have, and continue to, abuse the responsible European approach and, in failing to agree a responsible sharing of the mackerel stock as a Coastal State, they have embarked on a number of years of self-allocated quotas resulting in Norway and Faroes overfishing the last agreed sharing arrangement by an estimated 55%” - Cormac Burke, IFSA



As the representatives of the Irish fishing industry prepare for the Coastal States talks next week, it is clear that there is little point in EU member states trying to sustainably manage certain pelagic stocks, mackerel in particular, when other north-east Atlantic non EU countries are ‘filling their boots’ with outlandish self awarded quotas with little care for the state of the stock.


Following last year’s talks the EU Commission issued a statement saying that the EU “has concluded consultations with the north-east Atlantic coastal states and trilateral consultations with the UK and Norway on the joint management of shared fish stocks in 2023” and went on to say that these deals “will contribute to the sustainable management of the stocks, as well as secure the fishing opportunities for EU vessels”.


Despite the EU Commission describing this agreement as a “shared management of key stocks” it is obvious, particularly to Irish pelagic fishermen, that they are paying the price of this ‘sustainable management’ with quota reductions while others who are supposed to be sharing the responsibility of best management of the stocks continue to increase their take and, in doing so, are causing ripples on the processing and fishmeal international markets which will have major ramifications for Ireland’s pelagic industry in 2024.


Last year’s agreement with coastal states covered the joint management of mackerel, blue whiting and Atlanto-Scandian herring stocks:

  • For mackerel, the TAC for 2023 was set at 782,066 tonnes (-2% on 2022 TAC), in line with the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) approach advised by ICES;

  • For blue whiting, the TAC has been set at 1,359,629 tonnes (+81% on 2022 TAC) and for Atlanto-Scandian herring at 511,171 tonnes (-15% on 2022 TAC). Both TACs are in line with the ICES advice, in accord with the long-term management strategy (LTMS) approach.


Most importantly the Commission’s report said that as part of the agreement, the EU, Norway, the Faroe Islands, the UK, and, for the first time, Iceland and Greenland, had also agreed to set the control measures for pelagic stocks no later than 2026.


This, said the EU Commission, represented “a significant step forward towards creating a level playing field for all fleets and improved management of joint stocks in the North-East Atlantic”.


However, it is clear that while Europe has attempted to be an honest broker in the Coastal Sates process and has maintained a responsible position in adhering to the last agreed Coastal States share of the overall recommended TAC, meanwhile Norway and Faroes have consistently failed to deliver on a comprehensive coastal state sharing arrangement.


These Nordic states have abused the responsible European approach and, in failing to agree a responsible sharing of this stock as a Coastal State, they have embarked on a number of years of self-allocated quotas resulting in Norway and Faroes overfishing the last agreed sharing arrangement by an estimated 50 % to 55%.  


This has led to Norway and Faroes being challenged to catch this inflated quota in their own respective zones and driving the UK/Norway 2023 bilateral access deal.


The Nordic strategy of their negotiating position creates a genuine additional jeopardy that this overfishing is impacting on long term sustainability of the mackerel stock.


Europe MUST defend Irish interests in the negotiation process and face down the flagrant systematic abuse of the Coastal Sharing process.

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