18th January

Discard ban top item on December Fisheries Council

Ireland's marine minister Michael Creed has told the EU Fisheries Council that a solution must be found for mixed fisheries in the context of the discard ban.

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Mixed fisheries in waters around Ireland (Celtic Sea, Irish Sea and off the northwest coast) will create "difficult challenges" for fishermen as the discard ban is rolled out, he said.

All species subject to quota must be landed from 2019, effectively ending the current practice of discarding whitefish that are over quota, undersized etc.

The new discard policy means that vessels may be required to stop fishing early in the year, once Ireland's quota for the most limiting stock on mixed catches is exhausted.

"This situation is not acceptable to me. We must find solutions within the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) framework that will support the continuation of fisheries while protecting vulnerable stocks."

This he said would require "intensive work" involving Member States in the region, fishermen, stakeholders and the Commission over the next two years. 

"We must support fishermen to make use of more selective fishing gears and practices. We must also find solutions that practically support the discard ban and make use of all available flexibilities."

Minister Creed also held bilateral talks with his French counterpart, Alain Vidalies, ahead of the December Fisheries Council. 

Ireland has many shared fisheries with France, such as cod in the Celtic Sea which is facing a 67% cut proposed by the Commission.

"This cut would have serious socio-economic implications for both countries. We agreed [to examine] all options that may allow us to make a scientific case for a more modest cut in the quota, including [whether] additional conservation measures may be appropriate to help re-build this stock."

The bilateral also discussed the scallop fishery in the English Channel where Ireland has a small but important interest. Both sides agreed to promote "increased engagement" by their fleets to implement conservation measures, at EU level if necessary. 

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