Fisheries

FIE has welcomed Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Simon Coveney, TD, decision to refuse the Federation of Irish Fishermen's [FIF] request to allow the commercial fishing of sea bass in the Celtic Sea.

The Minister has confirmed to FIE that he is ‘not proposing changes at this time to the current arrangements in relation to bass fishing.'

The confirmation comes after FIE had requested documentation relating to the advice the Minister had received on the 2009 request.

Read the Press Release


FIE has urged the Irish Government to support the proposed EU fisheries reforms ahead of tomorrows'' meeting in Brussels. The proposals will reduce the administrative costs for operators and introduce a comprehensive traceability system

While fishermen claim that cod in the Celtic sea are protected by the success of existing conservation measures the truth is that the scientists have been opposing ‘any catch above zero' since 2005. Improved recruitment over two years has been used by fishermen to advocate an increase in spite of the fact that the Marine Institute makes it clear that ‘Celtic Sea cod remains below the desired biomass levels'.

The scale of the by catch problem was illustrated by Kerry Sinn Fein Deputy Ferris this month when he told the Dail that ‘A week last Friday, a trawler fishing off the Kerry coast was forced to dump 2.8 tonnes of spurdog overboard.'

Read our Press Release    |    Read Our Submission   |   Visit our marine pages

 

NEW - BAD NEWS FROM BRUSSELS - COD QUOTAS IN NORTH SEA UP 30% - COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS ON FISH QUOTAS LARGELY IGNORED BY MINISTERS

 


Ireland’s refusal to allow the Commission’s recovery plans to be extended to the Celtic Sea is reprehensible and irresponsible.  Friends of the Irish Environment argue that rather than ‘paying tribute’ to the fisherman’s lobbying, the Minister should have taken on board unbiased scientific advice.    Read more.

Minister of State Tony Killeen, TD,
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Agriculture House,
Kildare Street Dublin 2.
10 December, 2008

by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dear Minister;

We are aware of the sustained and organized pressure that the fisheries sector is bringing to bear and the opposition of the Federation of Irish Fishermen (FIF) to any reductions in fishing quotas for 2009 and would be most grateful if you and your officials read the attached summary of three key areas;

• Cod in Celtic Sea
• Cod, Haddock, Whiting Fishing Ban off the north west coast in Box VI (6)
• Nephrops.

 


We note, for example, that fishermen claim that the proposed ban off the north west coast of Ireland of cod, haddock and whiting is ‘alarming' and that ‘socio-economic factors' have been absent.

The opposite is true. The Marine Institute's Stock Book has been seeking the closure of these cod fisheries since 2005. And the 2008 Stock Book says clearly that it ‘previously advised for zero catch of cod, whiting and spurdog but that managers, due to social and economic considerations, have never implemented this advice.'

Improved recruitment over two years has been used by fishermen to advocate an increase in spite of the fact that the Marine Institute makes it clear that ‘Celtic Sea cod remains below the desired biomass levels'.

We briefly detail here responses to the fishermen's claims in these key areas. It is the continuing opposition to scientific advice for socio-economic reasons since the introduction if the Common Fisheries Policy that has led to 88% of fish stocks falling below sustainable levels.

Yours etc,

Tony Lowes

SUMMARY


Cod in Celtic Sea
Cod, Haddock, Whiting Fishing Ban off the north west coast in Box VI (6)
Nephrops.


Cod, Haddock, Whiting Fishing Ban off the north west coast in Box VI (6)

FIF state that

"The proposal to prohibit fishing for Cod, Haddock and Whiting off the NW coast (Area 6a) is most alarming. This was announced without going through the normal consultation process and there is no evidence of any socio economic impact study being conducted.'

How can it be ‘alarming' or there be ‘no evidence of any socio economic' considerations when In reality:

a. key fish stocks have been reported as under threat since at least 2005;
b. fisheries advice considerations have only used socio-economic factors.

This is clear from the Marine Institutes Stock Books.

a. Key fish stocks have been reported as under threat since at least 2005

In 2005 ‘cod stocks were low' with ‘zero catch of cod recommended'. ‘Emergency measures in place for this stock since 2001 have been replaced with the cod recovery plan (EC Reg. 423/2004)'. The status of Whiting stocks have ‘declined to a very low level'. Haddock stocks were ‘thought to be stable' but there were some uncertainties. [Stock Book 2005]

By 2006 cod stocks were considered to be collapsed. Whiting stocks remained low and catches ‘should be the lowest possible'. Haddock was now ‘ at risk of being harvested unsustainably' [Stock Book 2006]

The situation remained the same for 2007 with no recovery of cod or whiting and the continued over fishing along with poor recruitment of haddock. [Stock Book 2007]

Now in 2008 the Stock Book tells us that ‘the situation for four species cod, haddock, whiting and spurdog are now critical'. and ‘FSS agrees with ICES that ‘a closure of all fisheries catching cod, haddock, whiting or spurdog provides the highest probability of recovery for these stocks and is the only advice possible in the context of the precautionary approach' [Stock Book 2008]


b. fisheries advice considerations have only used socio-economic factors.
It is evident that the scientific advice given to the EU by ICES for this area has not yet been implemented. Meanwhile stocks continue to collapse.
‘FSS notes that ICES has previously advised for zero catch of cod, whiting and spurdog but that managers , due to social and economic considerations , have never implemented this advice. [Stock Book 2008]


Cod in Celtic Sea
The FIF is adamant that the introduction of additional measures are completely unjustified, given the success of existing conservation measures, the proposal to introduce additional technical control measures and the significant reduction in overall fishing capacity.

As far back as 2005 ICES have identified the Celtic Sea Cod stocks as critical. (Other stocks of concern include the spurdog, megrim, sole, plaice and the herring)

For Cod 'The reduction of effort which has taken place since 1999 may not have reduced fishing mortality to sustainable levels. Reduction of effort would improve yields and reduce risks to the stock in the longer term. Therefore, in view of the uncertainty of the data and the high fishing mortality estimated for 2002 effort should be reduced to ensure a longer-term reduction in fishing mortality towards sustainable levels. Adequate monitoring including discard monitoring should be implemented' (Stock Book 2005 page 217)

In 2006 the cod stocks were still being harvested unsustainably.

FSS advised that ‘any catch above zero for 2007 will be incompatible with the Precautionary approach. Therefore a closure of cod directed fishery is advised and only fisheries that have negligible catches of cod should be allowed'. Stock Book 2006) Page 238)

And in 2007 FSS agreed with the ICES advice that ‘any catch above zero for 2008 will be incompatible with the Precautionary approach. Therefore a closure of cod directed fishery is advised and only fisheries that have negligible catches of cod should be allowed'. But the harvesting continued.

In 2008 data from the fishing industry was used to increase the quota despite the ongoing concerns.

The Stock Book 2008 states that ‘Celtic Sea cod remains below the desired biomass levels and there are major concerns about data quality'.

It goes on ‘With the background of the latest ICES advice which includes a significant upward revision of the 2005 and 2006 year classes, STEFC concludes that ...the stock of cod in Divisions VII e-k would have been classified as "outside safe biological limits" and that the only specific rule for setting TAC for stocks are that TACs should be set at least 15% lower that for 2007'. There fore STCECF advises that the ‘TAC for cod in division VIIb-k should be no greater that 3,995 t' NOT the 5174 t recommended by ICES.


Nephrops. (Otherwise known as prawn, Dublin Bay Prawn, Norway Lobster or Scampi.

In general between the 2005 and 2008 Stock Books the state of stocks were thought not to have declined . However a survey showed that in one area the ‘absolute population abundance had fallen since 2003'.
Concerns about underreporting were also raised and total landings are thought to be under-reported by up to 100% for this stock.(sb 2006 page 123, page 199)
Due to a number of uncertainties the recommendation has been that the effort in this fishery should not be allowed to increase. (stock book 2006 page 199)
Now the stocks on the porcupine banks are declining and stock protection measures have been recommended.
FIF state that ‘ A proposed 15% cut in Ireland's vital prawn quota, stock which is recognised scientifically as one of the most stable and sustainable stocks in Europe, cannot be stood up. It is reckless without scientific foundation and totally unacceptable to be proposing such a cut in what is among Ireland's most important fisheries.

It is true that as fishermen have fished dowe the ecosystem - removing the large predatory fish such as cod leaving numerous species such as Nephrops which now form the back bone of the fishing industry. And it is also true that as 88% of commercial fish stocks are fished beyond safe biological limits by comparison Nephrops fisheries are the most stable. But sustainable means propose management and this we have yet to see. If stocks seem to be declining it is time to act now - so that maximum yields can be achieved in the shortest time possible.

As more effort is targeted towards these species their numbers are likely to decline. This is already happening on the porcupine banks.


Conclusion.
All that is recommended are cuts that will result in a continuity of maximum supply.

From Cod to Herring to Nephrops, there is a optimal sustainable population and yield that we need to achieve by 2015 at the latest.

The EU have been unable to implement the necessary proposals since the establishment CFP. Consequently the subsequent policies have not worked - 88% of fish stocks are now critically low.

Acceptance of the reality of the situation is now what is needed to allow stocks to rebuild and sustainable fishing industry to be established.

The most likely and as yet untried way to achieve this is to follow best scientific advice.

Friends of the Irish Environment
9.12.08

 

 

FIE has welcomed the Environmental Protection Agency's call for ‘severe measures such as multi-year closures' of Irish fisheries.

The EPA report says that 75% of Irish fish stocks are beyond the biological safe limit for further fishing. It makes it clear that cod fisheries are now in a ‘state of collapse'. The Report shows that Ireland's limited ‘closed areas' for cod since 2000 have not worked and the collapse is continuing.

The Minister must now ensure that the advice of the EPA and the Marine Institute are become Ireland's position during the current fisheries quota and policy debate.

EPA REPORT -  Ireland's Environment 2008  |  Our marine section