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Mixed reaction from Donegal TDs to new mackerel deal

Staff Reporter

Reporter:

Staff Reporter

Decision on mackerel quota review welcomed in Donegal

A deal will see the Killybegs-based mackerel sector catch almost €61M of the €70M Irish quota.

There has been a mixed reaction from Donegal TDs to a deal that will see the Killybegs-based mackerel sector catch almost €61M of the €70M Irish quota.

The deal was agreed in London in negotiations between the European Union, Norway, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland. The negotiations were aimed at the sustainable management of the €1billion annual mackerel fishery in the northeast Atlantic. The deal was announced by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

“This is good news for the fishing fleet along the west coast and which fishes out of Killybegs,”Donegal TD and government chief whip Joe McHugh said.

“I am also satisfied that Minister Creed will be lobbying hard for a larger quota when current arrangements expire at the end of 2018. As everyone in the industry knows I worked hard for the Killybegs-based sector to retain its share of the quota and they did so when the department review was completed. Mackerel is an extremely important part of our fishing industry, particularly for Killybegs where so many other jobs in processing and engineering rely on this quota.”But the agreement has been attacked by Fianna Fáil TD Deputy Pat the Cope Gallagher. The Leas Cheann Comhairle said the deal will see a fall of 17,200 tonne or a full 20% reduction in their catch. He said  this will have devastating effects on the sector and employment of the area.

“ I am shocked at the naivety of the government chief whip who this morning has welcomed this measure and announcement – there is no disguising the fact it simply means less catch, less employment and less opportunity for the northwest, and for any government representative to welcome this, demonstrates how out of touch they are with the sector.

“The Killybegs-based fishing fleet will be able to catch 60,000 in 2018, that is a full 20%

reduction on the 2017 quota when our allocation was 74,000 tonnes, this is a very

worrying reduction for the sector and allowing for the massive reduction will have

massive implications on the sector in the year ahead.”

Independent TD Thomas Pringle welcomed the decision not to change the allocation of mackerel quotas for fishing vessels in the industry.

“While minor changes were made to excess quotas, the decision not to change the share-out is good news for fishing ports like Killybegs heavily dependent on mackerel for employment and which the existing allocation of quotas helps facilitate.

“Sixty-five percent of Ireland’s mackerel quota is caught in the UK so if we end up with a hard Brexit, our access to British fishing waters could be restricted which would have a devastating impact on our mackerel fleet. My concern is that this would lead to massive job losses and increased unemployment for processing workers in the sector” explains Pringle.

“The south and south-west parts of Donegal are dependent on mackerel for employment which has been in steady decline over the past number of years due to restriction in quotas and the modernisation of fish processing methods. Any further changes that might divert fish from the area would have a disastrous impact on employment. For that reason I welcome the Minister’s decision not to change the existing allocation of mackerel quota between RSW and polyvalent vessels,” he said.