The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) provides the framework for the long term conservation and sustainability of fish stocks around our shores and is designed to ensure the long term sustainability of fishing in Ireland and throughout EU waters. The CFP specifically calls for the progressive restoration and maintenance of populations of fish stocks above biomass levels capable of producing Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY). This will lead to healthy fish stocks, higher quotas for both Irish and EU fishers and to more sustainable fishing patterns. In 2020, 45% of the stocks of interest to Ireland were fished at or below MSY - this increased from 34% in 2013. In 2009, at EU level only 5 stocks were fished at MSY. This shows that the many years of intensive, industry-led conservation measures within the framework of the CFP are paying off.
The share allocation of stocks between Member States was established as a principle of the first CFP in 1983 and was based on the average catch of each Member State over a period of reference years (track record). The only exception to this relates to the Hague Preferences, on the basis of a special recognition agreement of the underdeveloped nature of the Irish fleet and the heavy control responsibility on us when Ireland joined the EU. The Hague Preferences give Ireland an increased share of traditional stocks (cod, whiting, haddock, sole and plaice) when Total Allowable Catch (TAC) levels reduce below a specified level.
Under the CFP, EU fishing fleets are given equal access to EU waters and fishing grounds subject to allocated fish quotas. Fishing vessels, irrespective of size, must comply with the rules of the CFP, including rules on access and catch limits/quota.
The CFP is reviewed every 10 years and the next review is scheduled to be completed by 31st December 2022 when the European Commission will report to the European Parliament and the Council on the functioning of the CFP. The EU Commission has advised that it intends to commence the CFP review process following clarity on the future relationship between the EU and the UK. The review is expected to be detailed and comprehensive. At EU level, it is expected that all stakeholders will have an opportunity to engage actively in the review work including the fishing industry, eNGOs and Member States.
I will consider how Ireland will prepare for and participate actively and effectively in the upcoming review of the CFP, including the interaction with stakeholders, to prepare Ireland's case and identify priorities. I have previously stated that I am committed to doing all possible through the review of the CFP to secure additional quota where possible for Irish fishers.
The Programme for Government sets down an ambitious programme of actions that promote a sustainable seafood industry and we are committed to working to continue to build on the progress that has been made to secure a sustainable future for our fishing industry and the coastal communities which depend upon it.