Quota increase worth ‘several million pounds’ to fishermen.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Quota increase worth ‘several million pounds’ to fishermen. thumbnail Fishermen from Kilkeel will benefit from the enhanced quotas.

A RISE in the amount of fish Kilkeel fishermen can catch in the Irish Sea has been described as "one of the best results" for the NI fishing industry in almost two decades.

The move, agreed by the EU fisheries council last week, will see a "significant increase" in the fish quotas to the local fishing fleets for 2018.

Alan McCulla, chief executive of Kilkeel based fishing co-operative Sea Source, said that taken together "these increases will contribute additional catches for NI's fishing fleet valued at several million pounds".

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs said that at the meeting of the EU fisheries council last Wednesday (13 December) "robust evidence was presented to confirm that most fish stocks in the Irish Sea are now performing well and are being fished sustainably".

"This has led to some significant increases in the fish quotas available to the local fishing fleet for 2018.

"Irish Sea herring will increase by 70 per cent, haddock by 23 per cent, and plaice by 63 per cent. There was especially good news for Irish Sea cod which is now showing firm signs of recovery, resulting in a more than three-fold increase in the quota.

The quota for Irish Sea prawns, which is our most important stock, will rise by 15 per cent next year," said a department spokesman.

Mr McCulla said overall it was a good result for the Northern Ireland fishing industry.

"The vast majority of fish taken from the Irish Sea are now harvested according to internationally-recognised sustainability rules and whilst there is still a long way to go to return fisheries like cod to what they were in their heyday, the decisions taken in Brussels represent a very significant step in the right direction," said Mr McCulla.

The DAERA described the quotas as "a positive result which means that the Northern Ireland fishing fleet will have an estimated £3.6 million worth of additional fish quota available in 2018".

"These increases are the reward for the adoption of sustainable management measures in the Irish Sea and much hard work over a number of years by fisheries scientists at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) in partnership with the local fishing sector.

Wide ranging fish conservation measures have been introduced to boost fish stocks, and partnerships between scientists and fishermen have improved the amount and quality of information on which stock assessments are based."

Meanwhile, DUP MEP Diane Dodds said this "positive outcome represents the culmination of many years' sacrifice by Northern Ireland's fishermen".

"Clearly there is still a long way to go before we return the cod quota in the Irish Sea to the levels previously seen, but the allowable catch is certainly moving in the right direction."

South Down SDLP constituency representative and former MP Margaret Ritchie also said she was pleased that "there has been a good outcome for our local fishing fleets which spells good news for sustaining our local economies in the fishing communities"

"I understand that all the Northern Ireland objectives were achieved and this proves beyond reasonable doubt that the Fish Producer Organisations and the fishermen have worked tirelessly with the Fisheries Scientists and also have made immense sacrifices in previous years when they lost out on what they should have got in terms of proper fish species allocations," said Ms Ritchie.

Meanwhile, Mournes Councillor Glyn Hanna said: "I am delighted. This is one of the best results the fishing industry has received in years.

"Yes, the fishing industry is starting from a low base in some cases, but this represents a major step in the right direction and is testament to the sacrifice of our fishermen over the past 18 years.

Hopefully we are now leaving the EU and we can take back control of our fishing grounds."


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