Mackerel quota agreement welcome

A key agreement in relation to a mackerel quota between the EU and Norway has been welcomed.

A key agreement in relation to a mackerel quota between the EU and Norway has been welcomed.

Ireland will receive a quota of approximately 68,000 tonnes for 2012, the same as last year. However, due to the overfishing of mackerel by Iceland and the Faroe Islands, Ireland’s share of future quotas may be at risk.

The KFO has welcomed the agreement on mackerel for 2012 between EU and Norway. The agreement will give Ireland almost the same quota of mackerel of approximately 68,000 tonnes this year as compared to last year. The KFO had expected this outcome which is totally at odds with some recent comments that Ireland could loose up to 20,000 tonnes of mackerel with a value of €30 million this year. Mackerel is the most important economic species for Ireland and this agreement is good news for both the fishermen and processors particularly in the North West who are highly dependant on this fishery.

In a statement issued on friday they state: “The KFO is fully aware that the satisfactory agreement between EU and Norway for 2012 does not resolve the mackerel issue for future years. The reckless and irresponsible actions of Faros and Iceland in perusing an unrestrained mackerel fishery since 2008 with total disregard for responsible management and scientific advice will ultimately lead to the collapse of the stock if it is not stopped. The KFO is calling on Minister Coveney to seek immediate action by his fellow Ministers to stop this reckless behaviour at the Fisheries Council in Brussels on Monday 19th March.”

Sean O Donoghue CEO of Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisations commented: “I am pleased at the outcome of the EU and Norway mackerel agreement for 2012 which I had expected. It clearly shows that recent comments about massive losses for the Killybegs pelagic industry in 2012 were unfounded.” He added; “The good news for 2012 does not however resolve the major problem that still exists with Iceland and Faros continuing to peruse an unrestrained mackerel fishery. Immediate action is now required and I am calling on Minster Coveney to ensure that the Fisheries Council next Monday in Brussels fully addresses the issue. A window of opportunity does exist to introduce effective measures such as sanctions in advance of both Iceland and Faros commencing their mackerel fishery in late May and also to suspend accession negotiations with Iceland until the mackerel issue is resolved. I am convinced that such measures would very quickly resolve the issue leading to an agreed sustainable mackerel plan. I am also asking Minister Coveney to raise at the Council the issue of certain EU Members States re-flagging EU vessels under the Faros flag which is adding and abetting the Faros in perusing an unrestrained mackerel fishery and putting the healthy mackerel stock in jeopardy.”

Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP, a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries has today welcomed the agreement.

Pat the Cope said today “I am pleased that we have maintained our quota of mackerel for the coming year. Mackerel is an extremely important and valuable fish stock for Ireland and in particular the North West”.

Within the European Parliament, Pat the Cope on behalf of the Committee on Fisheries is bringing forward new trade sanctions, that when introduced will target Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

“The actions of Iceland and the Faroe Islands are unacceptable and threaten the sustainability of the stock. At all times, I emphasise the importance of an urgent resolution to this unnecessary dispute. This week in the European Parliament, I successfully amended an enlargement report on Iceland to call on the Coastal States to resume negotiations.”

“I met with the Norwegian Secretary of State for Fisheries during a recent visit to Oslo. I will go to Iceland on the 2nd of April and I will meet with the Icelandic Minister for Fisheries.

“My report widens the sanctions to include all fish and fishery products. The report has received broad political support in the European Parliament. I sincerely hope the matter will be resolved and sanctions will not be required. That said, my report will ensure that the measures will have real economic consequences for countries involved in unsustainable fishing practices.”