Irish fishers concerned EU-UK talks will undermine 2022 catch negotiations

Published on
December 9, 2021
the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO) has voiced “serious misgivings” about whether U.K.-E.U. negotiations will finish in time to set TACs and quotas for 2022.

With fisheries negotiations taking place between the United Kingdom and the European Union unlikely to conclude in the coming days, the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO) has voiced “serious misgivings” about whether key fisheries issues will be resolved at the annual meeting of the Council of Fisheries Ministers, due to get underway in Brussels, Belgium.

According to the KFO, the fishing industry is “already in a state of heightened anxiety” regarding Brexit losses and is now in a “nigh-impossible situation,” since decisions impacting Irish fisheries next year and beyond will be made at the E.U.-U.K. negotiations. The talks will affect 75 shared fish stocks, most of which are crucial to the Irish fleet.

KFO CEO Seán O’Donoghue said he doesn’t believe that the bilateral talks will have wrapped up in time to give the European Council the necessary data to come up with the final total allowable catches (TACs) and quotas for 2022, and therefore expects the European Commission to propose provisional limits.

“This is totally unsatisfactory and caused a major problem for our fishing sector last year with the final figures published seven months into the year,” he said. “Further compounding this, we had the huge impact of Brexit on our key stocks. It is of critical importance that what happened in 2021 is not repeated for 2022.”

O’Donoghue said seasonal fisheries such as mackerel, horse mackerel, blue whiting, and boarfish are predominantly worked in the first quarter of the year, so instructing fishermen they can only catch a certain percentage of their allocations during peak season is neither credible nor realistic.

“The KFO is also concerned in relation to a number of whitefish stocks, given the scientific advice being presented to E.U. and U.K. negotiators, and the impact the trilateral negotiations E.U./Norway/U.K. could have on significantly decreasing the TAC for haddock in Northwest, where an increase of 125 percent is expected.”

O’Donoghue has requested the Council of Fisheries Ministers to urge Norway and the Faroe Islands to stop overfishing mackerel in the Northeast Atlantic, which he said is “jeopardizing the sustainable management of the stock.”

Photo courtesy of Steve Allen/Shutterstock

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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