Posts Tagged ‘Commercial Fishing’

Ireland Ranked Worst Offender in EU Waters for Over Fishing

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

Well it would appear to be official, Ireland is the EU member state with the worst record for politically granted over fishing within North East Atlantic waters.

A report entitled – “Landing the Blame” – compiled by the New Economics Foundation, an independent organisation promoting economic well-being based in London, was produced to assess and clarify those EU member states most responsible for setting fishing quotas above scientific advice.

EU commercial fishing quotas are set annually each December at a closed door meeting of EU agriculture and fisheries ministers in Brussels attended by Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture and the Marine Simon Coveney.

The report concluded that Minister Coveney negotiated the largest proportional increase in fishing quotas for Ireland above scientifically advised levels last December, with Ireland’s quotas exceeding scientific advice by 25%.

Griffen Carpenter, a co-author of the report, is quoted as saying “there is a lack of transparency around these closed-door negotiations and pressure should be placed on member states to recognise the benefits of following scientific advice and managing marine ecosystems in a sustainable manner”.

Environmentalists world wide agree that over fishing is harmful to the marine environment threatening the long-term viability of the worlds marine habitats.

Over fishing also contravenes the reformed EU Common Fisheries Policy which set 2015, where possible, as the target date by which to end EU over fishing.

To read the Report Click On: Landing the Blame for Over Fishing in the North East Atlantic 2016.


Hector Goes Fishing

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Irish broadcaster Hector Ó hEochagáin had a real opportunity within this program screened on RTE to not only give viewers an insight into all the elements that make up the Irish commercial fishing sector, but to also widen the brief as to how Ireland’s wild sea fisheries resource could be managed ongoing to include tourism, less destructive fishing methods and marine protected areas.

A programme that started well by giving an accurate overview of the Irish fishing industry today concluded with the usual clichés about Ireland as an island nation, the mistrust of all parties involved, a sad but true image of the discards debacle showing the Kilmore Quay Flaherty’s chucking fish over the side, how dangerous the job is and the “joining the EU/sell out chestnut”.

Hector failed to mention gross over fishing within Ireland’s territorial waters to include the Irish fleet and how over fishing is the real reason why supply and job creation within the sector is hamstrung. Also that recreational sea angling to include its 4500 jobs contribution, many tourism based, is worth €127 million or 15% of the €700 – 800 million total commercial fishing sector revenues.

Shining lights within the broadcast though were Martin Howley’s assessment of the Irish Pelagic fleets contribution and also fisheries Minister Simon Coveney, who to be fair gave a balanced picture as to the negotiations involved when we joined the EEC, citing prevailing thinking nationally on what was best for Ireland’s future. The Minister also alluded to a lack of national vision and ambition with regard to maritime affairs at the time and what would have happened in his opinion if Ireland had subsequently negotiated more control of its waters pre 1973 referencing over fishing in the Irish Sea.

However the words “over fishing or destructive practices” never left Hector’s lips creating what was in short an unbalanced review of Ireland’s commercial fishing sector and therefore another missed opportunity to further a wider view as to how Ireland’s marine resource can be best utilised and managed into the future.

See also RTE player: Hector Goes Fishing, online until 24th March 2014.


Taking Stock of a Missed Opportunity.

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

If I had invested my life’s work and hard earned money in the Irish commercial fishing sector as it exists today, I would at the least be worried and possibly leaning towards anger. Correspondingly, if I were leaving school or college in 2012 with aspirations of building a sea fishing based career or business I would feel sorely let down.

Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD returned home from Brussels mid December after the annual EU fisheries negotiations declaring that he was “delighted with the outcome of these negotiations which delivered my key priorities and will allow the Irish fishing fleet look forward to 2012 with optimism”.

The Stock Book.

The stock book is the annual review of sea fish stocks and management advice delivered to the Minister by the Fisheries Science Services section of the Marine Institute. This important document forms the basis of commercial fisheries negotiations, and once you break through the jargon makes for interesting reading, especially when backed up by practical knowledge and experience on the ground.

As highlighted in recent columns the south coast has experienced an influx of large codling this winter. These fish first became apparent offshore in early 2010 as one year old juveniles 30 – 35 centimetres long. Today going into 2012 after feeding hard these codling are in the three – four pound bracket, becoming sexually mature, and spawning most likely for the first time. They represent visual evidence that 2009 delivered a good year class for Celtic Sea cod, a fact which the scientists agree with.

ICES commercial fishing divisions around the Irish coast.

The last strong Celtic Sea cod year class was in 2000, an injection which helped sustain an already depleted and hard hit stock through the last decade. Science has gauged the present day spawning stock of Celtic Sea cod to be in the region of 10,000 tonnes with a mean average age between 2 – 5 years. These fish are not big by cod standards probably averaging 10.lbs weight or less, the species is capable of growing to well over 100 lbs left to its own devices, and are young cod only maturing around their forth year.

Minister Coveney accompanied by industry lobbyists secured a 77% increase on Celtic Sea cod landings for Irish vessels in 2012, raising Ireland’s quota share to approximately 1500 tonnes, it’s not a lot but for hard pressed owner/skippers it certainly helps relieve the pressure. For the youthful aspirant dreaming of a marine based career however things do not look so hot, short term expedience again trumping long term gain.

Stock book figures highlighting 2012 cod quotas for the Celtic Sea.

Increasing the catch quota on a depleted fishery based on the first decent spawning year in a decade just does not make sense when we are looking to maximise our resources into the future. The Minister for all the fanfare has secured only a pyrrhic victory, helping neither skipper or student plan their future with any degree of certainty. Sadly another missed opportunity for the Government who promised real change less than 12 months ago….

First published People Newspapers, Tuesday 3rd January, 2012.