McConalogue protecting Irish fishers at difficult quota negotiations

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, T.D. today welcomed the progress made on key Fish Quotas for Ireland at the EU Fisheries Council of Ministers which began on Sunday morning. The Council has been agreeing provisional fish quotas to enable EU fishers operate from the first of January. In parallel, intensive work has continued to conclude a deal with the UK which would see full year quotas established for 2023 on the majority of stocks of interest for Irish fishermen, which are jointly managed with the UK.

Minister McConalogue said: “The EU negotiations with the UK on setting quotas for 2023 are at an advanced stage and I made use of the opportunities at the Fisheries Council to work with fellow Ministers. I also continued my discussions with Commissioner Sinkevičiusto ensure that Ireland’s priorities are protected.  My objective has been to set quotas based on scientific advice and rebuild depleted and overfished stocks. In general, I want our fishers to have access to the maximum level of quota that can be sustainably fished, whilst taking account of the complex nature of mixed fisheries.  As the negotiations are almost complete, I am satisfied that the agreement will deliver on this objective.  We have positive advice on a number of our critical commercial stocks including Spurdog, Nephrops, Celtic Sea Monkfish, Hake and Megrim and North-west Haddock and Whiting.  I am satisfied, following the work done over recent days that we will deliver quotas that follow the increases advised by the science.   I am also supporting cuts where these are needed to reduce fishing pressure on stocks and restricted catch limits for depleted stocks.”

The Fisheries Council adopted provisional quotas for the first three months of 2023 as the EU/UK agreement is not finalised. These quotas will support fishing at the beginning of the year.  The Minister said: “I do not expect we will need these provisional quotas but they are an insurance policy to provide certainty for our fishers.”

The Minister also said: “Negotiations with Norway were suspended. The atmosphere for these negotiations was negatively impacted at European level by Norway’s recent fisheries discussions with Russia.  My main issue of concern remains that Member States who benefit from an agreement with Norway pay their fair share in quota transfers.  I am working to limit the transfer of Blue Whiting and keep it at no more than 4% of the Blue Whiting global Total Allowable Catch (TAC).  I am also working closely with Commissioner Sinkevičius to restrict access for the Norwegian fleet to the Irish zone and in particular the area within 50 miles of the Irish coast.  I expect that negotiations will re-open soon and I am satisfied that Ireland’s key concerns are clearly understood and will be protected.”