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Coveney puts down a strong marker to protect the Irish Mackerel Industry

Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine warned the Council of Fisheries Ministers in Brussels today, that the over reliance on pelagic stocks for the annual exchange in fishing opportunities with Norway is having a detrimental effect on our own Pelagic fleet with knock on consequences for our processors.

Minister Coveney said "EU/Norway is a very important agreement for the EU, but Ireland has traditionally lost out in the overall exchange of fishing opportunities because key pelagic stocks of interest to us, in particular Blue Whiting,  form part of the exchange for Arctic Cod, where we gain little".

Norway's Pelagic fleet will see large reductions in their Atlanto Scandian Herring(ASH) and mackerel quotas for 2013, and are demanding large increases in the amount of Blue Whiting and other pelagic stocks to offset this, they have large amounts of Arctic cod to offer in return, but Ireland receives only a small share of this.   Minister Coveney explained  "the Irish Pelagic fleet is experiencing the same reductions on Norwegian herring and mackerel and to expect them to suffer more hardship by transferring  increased amounts of Blue Whiting and Horse mackerel to Norway is unfair and unacceptable, and I made my views on this crystal clear at the Council".

On the question of setting fishing levels for mackerel, Ireland's most important stock, the Minister said "I am concerned about the state of the mackerel stock which is being threatened by the irresponsible and unsustainable fishing by Iceland and the Faroe islands on the stock.  I support following ICES scientific advice on setting the 2013 mackerel TAC. I do not however consider that it is reasonable to reduce further the EU share of the stock in response to overfishing of Iceland and the Faroe Islands".

Ireland has secured support at Council on this issue from the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Portugal and Poland.   Minister Coveney went on to say "I believe that the EU and Norway, as the major shareholders should agree to implement without delay a joint approach including trade sanctions to bring pressure to bear on Iceland and the Faroe islands to come to the table with justifiable demands on a cohesive management framework for the stock which is in all our interests".

Talks between the EU and Norway on the annual fishing agreement and on mackerel commence next week in Bergen, Norway and are scheduled to conclude on Friday 7th December.

Date Released: 29 November 2012