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Ministers Coughlan and Browne deliver 182,699 tonnes of Fish Quotas and Strong Conservation Measures to the benefit of the Irish Fishing Industry for 2008

- All night negotiations deliver balanced, stable and sustainable deal for Irish fishermen -

Mary Coughlan TD, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and John Browne TD, Minister of State this morning secured a valuable package of measures for Irish fishermen following the December Council of Ministers meeting in Brussels which entailed two days and an all-night round of intensive negotiations. The main components of the deal centred around the success in relation to Total Allowable Catch (TAC), defending against anti-conservation proposals and new protection areas for deep water coral reefs.

Total Allowable Catch (TACs) and Quotas

The Ministers secured 35,612 tonnes of whitefish quotas for Ireland, which is at the same level as last year. This was a significant success given the initial proposal by the Commission which involved cuts of up to 25% for 25 of the 37 stocks of importance to Ireland. The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) levels for many of our most important stocks has been maintained including monkfish, prawns and haddock and an increase was secured for hake, plaice off the south-west and haddock in the Rockall area. The Irish Ministers also successfully defended the crucial Hague Preferences after a number of Member States attempted to have them set aside this year.

Ministers Coughlan and Browne delivered 125,956 tonnes of pelagic quota which included a substantial increase of 24% in the horse mackerel quota which is very important to the Irish fleet. Concern about the state of the herring stocks around the coast has resulted in the Commission proposing reductions of 25% in the TACs. The Ministers gained the support of Council colleagues for a rebuilding plan for herring in the Celtic Sea which was prepared by fishermen, and commits to a suite of conservation measures in order to rebuild the stock which is almost exclusively in Irish hands. Ministers also committed to major research programmes to develop a better understanding of the herring stock in the north west in partnership with industry. On this basis, Ministers secured agreement to limit the cut in the TAC to 16%.

"I am delighted that we have been successful in delivering a balanced package of fishing opportunities for our fishermen. Where I saw that cuts in TACs were required for conservation reasons I sought and secured alternative increased opportunities in other valuable stocks. The final package of quotas for Ireland will underpin our €750 million seafood sector," said Minister Coughlan.

Minister Browne said: "We worked closely with industry over the past few weeks and especially during the negotiations to ensure that as far as possible Ireland's priorities were delivered."

Ministers resist pressure to introduce damaging fishing gear

During the negotiations Ministers Coughlan and Browne persuaded the Council and the Commission to reject attempts by some Member States to introduce smaller mesh fishing gear into Irish waters. During the Council a proposal was brought forward, late in the proceedings, which allowed foreign fishing vessels - which use smaller mesh in other Community waters - to use the same smaller mesh gear off the south and west coast of Ireland. These fishing grounds are vitally important as nursery grounds for hake and other stocks.

"I was very disappointed that some Member States sought to introduce smaller mesh gear in our waters. We rejected this proposal and convinced our colleagues that the measure was anti-conservation. Had this measure gone through it would have flown in the face of all our efforts to promote the use of larger mesh gear which allows small fish to pass through, reduce discards and promote the rebuilding of fish stocks," said Minister Coughlan.

New Protection areas for deep water coral reefs secured

Agreement was also secured at Council for Ireland's Marine Special Areas of Conservation in deep waters off the west coast. Minister Browne said: "Ireland identified areas where cold water coral sites are particularly important and secured the Council's agreement to measures that will ensure that the corals in these areas are fully protected for future generations. This is an important environmental measure and delivers on Ireland's obligations under the EU Habitats Directive."


The Ministers concluded by saying that they were extremely pleased with the outcome of the negotiations. The success in securing valuable fishing opportunities while enhancing environmentally friendly and sustainable fishing is hugely important. The commitment by the Government to the future of the fishing sector, as set out in the Cawley measures and the National Development Plan is now underpinned for the coming year by a favourable deal in Council.

Excel File attached containing Table 1 (Summary Quota Situation for Irish Fishermen for 2008) and Table 2 (Detailed Quota Situation for Irish Fishermen for 2008).

19 December 2007

Date Released: 19 December 2007