Thursday, 13 December 2012

Questions (16)

Micheál Martin

Question:

16. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the progress made to date on fishery discussions at EU level for 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55981/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The annual fishing opportunities for the Community’s fishing fleets are traditionally agreed at the December Fisheries Council. This year, the arrangements for 2013 are due to be negotiated at the Council scheduled for 18th to 20th December. The levels of Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and the quotas for Ireland will be determined at that meeting following negotiations with Member States and the EU Commission. The Fisheries Council will also decide on the fishing effort, which determines days spent at sea, available for the Irish fleet in the Irish Sea and off the north-west coast for 2013.

The process of preparing for the Council is now well under way with the publication of the European Commission's detailed proposals for TACs and quotas of key stocks of interest to Ireland in October. The proposal covers stocks which are not subject to third party international agreements and are, in the main, whitefish and prawn stocks.

Since the publication of the proposal I have conducted a number of bi-laterals with the EU Commission, a number of Member States and the Irish fishing industry. I have also formally commented on the Commission proposal in advance of negotiations. I have had an assessment of the impacts of the Commission proposal through the preparation of a Sea Fisheries Sustainability Impact Assessment which is provided for in the Programme for Government. To facilitate and inform these deliberations, I initiated an open consultation process whereby stakeholders were asked to submit their comments and observations on the Commission proposal for fishing opportunities for 2013. From November 2nd an online web portal on www.fishingnet.ie was activated to enable the transmission of electronic submissions for consideration.

In addition, I convened a meeting of stakeholders on the 15th of November which gave a further opportunity to key stakeholders to outline their position on the many aspects of the Proposal. The Marine Institute and BIM have also undertaken an evaluation of the Commission’s proposal which is contained in the Sea Fisheries Sustainability Impact Assessment.

The Impact Assessment acknowledges that while many stocks in which the Irish fleet have an interest are not in a healthy biological state, there has been an improvement in 2012 on the state of the resource base in relation to pressure and state indicators.

The Commission subsequently published their Proposal for a Council Regulation fixing for 2013 the fishing opportunities available in EU waters and, to EU vessels, in certain non-EU waters for certain fish stocks and groups of fish stocks which are subject to international negotiations or agreements in November.

The non agreement at the Coastal States talks on mackerel, blue whiting and atlanto scandian herring aligned to the inconclusive second round of bilateral negotiations between the EU and Norway, now means that some stocks where Ireland have an interest including mackerel , horse mackerel, blue whiting, ling & saithe will be subject to provisional quotas at the December Council.

Coastal States negotiations on blue whiting and atlanto scandian herring will resume on December 14th, in London. The discussions with Norway are scheduled to reconvene in Clonakilty on the 16th January, it is expected that final quotas will be determined early in the Irish Presidency.