Gildernew resists excessive cut in prawn quota
Michelle Gildernew, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, expressed her relief at reducing a 17% cut in the Nephrops (prawn) quota at the December Fisheries Council.
Speaking from Brussels after the Council ended in the early hours of 15 December, she said: “Before the Council the industry had made it clear that they opposed strongly the Commission proposal to introduce different management arrangements for Nephrops (prawns) in Area VII which would have limited the flexibility of our fleet to fish outside the Irish Sea. I am pleased that we succeeded in getting this issue off the table. However the Commission had proposed a 17% cut in the Nephrops quota which we resisted strongly.
“The final proposal voted through was for a 3% cut. I pressed for a further reduction but the Commission would not move.
“On Herring I secured a 10% increase which will be important for the local pelagic fleet and processors. This is welcome given the work we have done with the industry to develop the science on this stock and I hope we can build on that in future years.
“The other main issues were on whitefish stock in the Irish Sea where the 50% cut on cod was reduced to 25% and a 15% cut on haddock was reduced to 10%. The scientific assessment of our whitefish stocks contains some concerns about their sustainability. The industry has been working with DARD and AFBI to reduce discards and we have demonstrated that in figures put to the Commission. We will want to ensure that these positive steps are taken account of in the review of the Cod Recovery Plan which is to take place next year which will have a fundamental effect on all Irish Sea fisheries.”
The Minister went on to say: “This was a very complex negotiation. I fully respect the need to have sustainable fisheries but I believe that within this approach there was scope for a lesser cut on Nephrops.”