The International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) provided advice on a series of fish stocks of importance to Ireland at the end of June. The advice covers many of our demersal stocks and some of our herring stocks. Advice on other important stocks including mackerel, horse mackerel and nephrops is expected to be published later in the autumn.
The advice will be carefully examined and the Marine Institute will compile all the advice on fish stocks of importance to Ireland and any additional information and analysis in its annual “The Stock Book” later in the year. When the EU Commission publish its proposal for TACs and quotas for 2020, I will undertake a public consultation for a Sustainability Impact Statement following consultation with stakeholders and will present my report to the Oireachtas in advance of the December Fisheries Council to hear the views and concerns of the Oireachtas.
The situation in relation to mackerel is that new advice for 2020 is expected in late September and the Coastal State consultations will resume in October.
In relation to advice for the mackerel stock for 2019, ICES advised in September 2018 that the 2019 TAC should be 318,403 tonnes - a reduction of 68% compared to 2018. ICES did, however, warn about sensitivity of the assessment to some of the data inputs.
Following five meetings in October/November 2018, the Coastal States party to the 2014 Mackerel Sharing Agreement (European Union, Norway and the Faeroe Islands) decided on a precautionary reduction of 20% and requested ICES to conduct an inter-benchmark review to look at the sensitivities in the data inputs especially tagging data. ICES completed the review in March 2019 and re-evaluated the state of the stock. New advice was published on the 15th May and this revised the advised catch figure from 318,403 tonnes to 770,358 tonnes – an increase on the current TAC of 18%. For Ireland, if applied, this would equate to an increase in our quota of just under 10,000 tonnes.
Following the publication of the new advice, two further Coastal States meetings were held in London on the 20/21 May and 12/13 June. Ireland, as did other Member States, sought to revise the 2019 mackerel TAC in line with the new advice. Unfortunately, it did not prove possible to achieve agreement between the Coastal States on a revision to the TAC.