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File photo Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland
fishing quotas

Mixed results for Irish fishermen after "difficult and complex negotiations"

Talks on Ireland’s fishing quotas for 2013 ended in the early hours of this morning, with Minister Coveney saying that the agreed quotas would “support our fishing industry over the coming year”.

EU MINISTERS HAVE this morning concluded their talks on fish quotas for 2013, with Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney “pleased that we have secured a good deal”.

After two days of talks, it was agreed that there will be 216,300 tonnes of fish quotas for Irish fishermen in 2013.

This included a six per cent increase in the amount of prawns which could be caught, while quotas for whitefish were maintained at 2012 levels.

Speaking following the conclusion of talks at 7am this morning, Coveney said that the “result achieved is a good deal for the Irish fishing industry”.

We have secured increases from last year for key stocks including increased prawn quota in all areas totalling 8,733 tonnes and an increased whiting quota in the Celtic Sea amounting to 6,812 tonnes. The package of quotas secured today will support the economies of those coastal communities which are dependent on the resulting employment created both at sea and in onshore related industries.

The news wasn’t all positive for Irish fishermen, however. The quotas for cod and sole dropped, along with a reduction in the haddock quota of 15 per cent.

While a 63 per cent increase in the quota for blue whiting was agreed (a new total of 13,105 tonnes), final numbers for this, along with mackerel and horse mackerel will not be known until the New Year, after the EU/Norway Fisheries Agreement is completed.

The main changes, by geographical location, were as follows:

The Irish Sea

  • Six per cent rise in the prawn quota.
  • Cod and sole quotas reduced “because of serious concerns about the state of these stocks”.

The Celtic Sea

  • 29 per cent increase for the whiting quota (an additional 1,500 tonnes).
  • A “modest” increase in the cod quota.
  • No change in the quotas for hake, megrim and monkfish.
  • A reduction in the haddock stock “in accordance with the scientific advice”.

The North West

  • The pre-existing quota for boarfish remains the same.
  • 63 per cent increase in the blue whiting quota (a total of  13,105 tonnes). As mentioned above, the final quota for this, along with mackerel and horse mackerel, will be finalised early next year. The mackerel quota is expected to drop, however.

Responding to this morning’s announcement, the CEO of the Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation (IFPO), Francis O’Donnell, told TheJournal.ie that the “difficult and protracted” talks had produced a mixed bag for Irish fishermen, the impact of which would largely depend on their fishing area and catch type.

In relation to concerns related to over-fishing, O’Donnell said that it was “in no-ones best interests to over-fish” and that fishermen had, for example, “reduced the levels of juvenile cod being caught to just five per cent, at a huge expense to themselves.”

Read: Calls made to reverse over-fishing trends and ban trawling >

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