2018 fishing opportunities welcomed by UK, Ireland

Published on
December 15, 2017
UK fishing boats

Fishermen in the United Kingdom and Ireland have been boosted by the agreement on increased quotas for key stocks at this year’s E.U. Fisheries Council in Brussels, held on 11 and 12 December.

For the U.K. fleet, total fishing opportunities worth more than GBP 750 million (USD 1 billion, EUR 853 million) were agreed at this year’s negotiations, including increased quotas for:

North Sea: Cod +10 percent, haddock +23 percent and monkfish +20 percent

Irish Sea: Cod +377 percent, haddock +55 percent

Eastern Channel: Sole +25 percent and skates and rays +20 percent

Bristol Channel: Plaice +49 percent and sole +9 percent

Speaking after the negotiations in Brussels, U.K. Fisheries Minister George Eustice said that sustainable fishing was starting to yield results in some areas with a recovery in key stocks, resulting in increased quotas. But he also acknowledged that challenges continue in areas like the Celtic Sea and on iconic species such as seabass so further restrictions were needed.

“As we prepare to leave the E.U., we will place science-based fisheries management at the heart of future policy,” said Eustice. 

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said that the significantly increased stocks for North Sea cod and haddock would provide a welcome boost for Scotland, as would the quota increases for Irish Sea cod and haddock for Northern Ireland.

The Scottish Government estimated that an additional GBP 44 million (USD 59.1 million, EUR 50 million) worth of fishing opportunities would be available to Scottish fishermen next year, with strong increases for North Sea whiting (+38 percent), monkfish (+20 percent), North Sea Norway lobster (+22 percent) and west of Scotland haddock (+26 percent).

Furthermore, an important gain in terms of addressing a major potential choke species under the EU Landing Obligation (or discard ban) was a new geographic flexibility provision for ling. It said this would help the industry deal with shortfalls in the North Sea by allowing it to transfer up to 15 percent of quota from the west of Scotland if needed. This is in addition to a 10 percent increase in the total allowable catch (TAC) limit for the North Sea, which will provide additional relief to quota shortages.

In Ireland, the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organization (KFO) welcomed the outcome of the council meeting, including the “favorable result” achieved on Celtic Sea demersal stocks such as cod, haddock, whiting, and nephrops as well as Celtic Sea herring. 

However, the KFO emphasized Irish fishermen’s fears that Brexit could cost the industry dearly if fisheries aren’t made a top priority by the Irish government in the next round of talks. 

With Ireland sharing 47 out of its 50 TACs and quotas stocks with Britain, the KFO said it “stands to reason” that Ireland will suffer disproportionately if negotiations on fisheries are separated from wider trade negotiations. 

“Our geographic location, existing arrangements and high dependency on Britain means that we are perilously positioned if our government doesn’t negotiate extremely effectively on our behalf,” said Seán O’Donoghue, chief executive of KFO.

It is estimated that 11,000 jobs are sustained in coastal areas by the Irish seafood industry, which is worth just over EUR 1.1 billion (USD 1.3 billion).

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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