Thursday, 2 November 2006

Questions (159, 160, 161)

Enda Kenny

Question:

155 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the number of processing plants currently involved in the pelagic fish processing industry as against the number operating in 1996; the reason for the decline in processing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35950/06]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources)

It is estimated that the number of plants operating in the pelagic processing industry in 1996 was 29. The number of companies who now operate exclusively in the pelagic processing sector is 16. There are number of reasons for the decline such as a decrease in the volume of raw material, rationalisation and diversification into processing other species. The Total Allowable Catch for herring and horse mackerel stocks of importance to Ireland have decreased substantially since the mid 1990's. In recent years, the mackerel TAC has also declined. The total pelagic quotas available to Ireland in 1998 was 200,000 tonnes while the current quotas for the same group of species amount to 116,774 tonnes.

Taking into account the importance of the pelagic industry to the Irish fishing industry, the decline in the pelagic processing sector is a matter of concern. In order to examine the issues and bring forward a development strategy, I appointed an independent Seafood Strategy Review Group in June 2006 to devise a strategy for a sustainable and profitable Irish Seafood industry over the period 2007-13, of which the processing sector is a key component.

Its task is to develop a comprehensive, integrated, market-led vision for the future of the Irish seafood sector, based on a strategy centred on innovation, product development and value maximization for our coastal communities, together with sustainable management of marine resources and ecosystems in the waters around Ireland.

The Strategy Review is to be completed at an early date. Its findings will also feed into the new National Development Plan for the period 2007-13.

I believe that this Strategy, along with the new National Development Plan, will chart a course for the sector, including the processing sector and the coastal communities dependent on marine industries, and will ensure comprehensive, integrated and ongoing development through the 2007-13 period.

Enda Kenny

Question:

156 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the quota for herring for the north and west area; the extent of landings of this quota; if he is satisfied that the maximum return is achieved from this quota, in view of the method of processing; and if he has further satisfied himself that quality is maintained as a consequence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35951/06]

View answer

Herring to the North and West of Ireland is divided between two International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) Management areas and Ireland has a quota in each area. The revised Irish quota for Herring in 2006 in ICES Division VIa N (waters to north of Ireland) is 4,569 tonnes with recorded landings of 561 tonnes for the period 1st January to 30th September 2006. In ICES area VIa(s), VIIbc (Waters to north and west of Ireland), Ireland has a quota of 15,046 tonnes with recorded landings of 9,029 tonnes for the same period. I am advised that all Herring landings by Irish vessels have been made into Irish ports and have been processed in Irish factories. However, I consider that there are opportunities to strengthen the returns from this and other fisheries. In order to examine the issues and bring forward a development strategy, I appointed an independent Seafood Strategy Review Group in June 2006 to devise a strategy for a sustainable and profitable Irish Seafood industry over the period 2007-13.

Its task is to develop a comprehensive, integrated, market-led vision for the future of the Irish seafood sector, based on a strategy centered on innovation, product development and value maximization for our coastal communities, together with sustainable management of marine resources and ecosystems in the waters around Ireland.

The Strategy Review is to be completed at an early date. Its findings will also feed into the new National Development Plan for the period 2007-13.

I believe that this Strategy, along with the new National Development Plan, will chart a course for the sector, including the processing sector and the coastal communities dependent on marine industries, and will ensure comprehensive, integrated and ongoing development through the 2007-13 period.

Enda Kenny

Question:

157 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the quota allocated in respect of herring for the Celtic Sea; the way this is currently managed; his views on whether a higher quota in this area is justified; if he is satisfied that there is no threat to sustainability of the stock in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35952/06]

View answer

Under the 2006 TAC and quota arrangements, agreed by the Council of Fisheries Ministers in December 2005, Ireland received a quota of 9,549 tonnes of herring in the Celtic Sea (ICES area VIIghjk).

This fishery is managed in consultation with the Celtic Sea Management Advisory Committee, a body composed of industry representatives. The fishery is normally opened for seasons in the spring, summer and autumn of each year. These seasons are managed on a weekly basis. Eligible vessels wishing to participate in the fishery during a given week must advise the Department in advance in order to book in. Those vessels that have booked in for a particular week are then allocated an amount of Celtic Sea herring quota for that period.

Scientific advice for this stock was published in June of this year. This advice recommends that a management plan should be put in place for this stock to help rebuild it. The Marine Institute, in conjunction with the Irish fishing industry, has been working on the development of a management plan for this fishery. In the forthcoming annual negotiations on the Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and Quotas for 2007, scheduled to take place in December, I will be seeking to ensure that the level of TAC set takes into account any management plan which may be introduced for the fishery.