18th October

Outcome of mackerel negotiations ‘satisfactory in the short-term’ says KFO

The Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation says it is ‘satisfied’ with the outcome of the mackerel negotiations which concluded today (21/11) in Bergen.

The three parties (EU, Norway and Faros) who had signed an agreement in March set a total allowable catch (TAC) for next year of 1,054,000t which follows the scientific precautionary approach. Iceland has remained outside the agreement.

Killybegs1

Killybegs: Outcome of Bergen negotations guarantees Ireland's mackerel fleet a fixed quoata as long as the overall stock numbers show no decline. Photo Gillian Mills 

According to Sean O’Donoghue, chief executive of the KFO, the outcome reflects not only the scientific advice but also the reality on the ground of a very large stock of mackerel that continues to grow.

“Over the next number of years I expect we will continue to see a very large stock size given the good recruitment coming into the fishery. Leaving aside the Irish quota set for this year, which was an anomaly to reach an agreement, the Irish quota for next year of 89,200 tonnes is the highest since TACs and quotas were introduced for mackerel in 1987. This is despite our percentage share being reduced in the new three-party agreement reached in March.”

He cautioned however that should the mackerel stock decline in the long-term, the 20% decrease in Ireland’s share agreed in March would mean significant losses of mackerel fishing opportunities for Ireland.

“This share reduction is not acceptable and it must be re-negotiated when the agreement expires at the end of 2018.”

Unlike the last four years when provisional mackerel TACs were set along with provisional quotas at the start of the year, the Irish quota of 89,200 tonnes is the final quota.

“This is most welcome as it gives certainty in relation to the fishing opportunities for mackerel to the pelagic fishing industry for next year,” he said.

While welcoming the agreement saying it gave "certainty" to Irish fishermen, Ireland's marine minister, Simon Coveney said he did not agree with the amount of quota set aside for "other parties" such as Iceland.

"This sharing arrangement remains fixed until 2018 but at this stage I would expect [it] can be revsied. But perhaps the most important outcome is that for the first time in many years, the quota is set in line with scientific advice, and that advice shows the mackerel stock in the North East Atlantic is indeed in a healthy condition."

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