Irish fishermen have claimed 350 jobs will be lost and more fish will be dumped into the sea following a new European deal on how much they are allowed to land.
The country’s second most valuable fishery, the prawn catch, will be cut by 9%, while the amount of haddock allowed to be brought ashore will be drastically reduced by a third.
Francis O’Donnell, chair of the Federation of Irish Fishermen (FIF), said coastal communities along the south-west will be hardest hit and some of the cuts are a charter for throwing good fish back to the sea dead.
“This is particularly irritating given the efforts by both the Irish Industry and our European counterparts to enhance conservation measures,” he said.
Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, said the total value of Ireland’s fish quota for next year is 2% higher than it was this year and is worth €260m.
“Negotiations this year were extremely difficult in Council but important increases have been secured in specific stocks,” he said.
“While some of the quotas for whitefish stocks were reduced in the Celtic Sea, this reflected the scientific advice of poor recruitment into the stocks of cod, haddock and whiting; cuts were required to take account of the scientific advice.”
The deal agreed at the European Council also sees a 22% cut in the amount of whiting to be landed. On the plus side the hake quota is up 49% and mackerel 13%, while in the Celtic Sea there was a 30% increase in the herring fishery and along the south and west a 15% increase in monkfish.
There have also been increases for the Irish fleet for mackerel, 13%, the large boarfish fishery off the south west coast, the blue whiting quota for the north west, megrim off the north west, haddock in the Rockall region and Albacore tuna in the summer off the south west.
Mr Coveney added: “The fishing industry faced very drastic cuts on key stocks going into this Council and my team and I have worked hard over the two days of negotiations to deliver a much better package of quotas for Irish fishermen for 2014. I can assure you we have secured the maximum commercial value from fish stocks for the fishing industry while taking responsible decisions to protect vulnerable stocks where appropriate.”
“For some areas of the industry there are very significantly increased opportunities for Irish fishermen in 2014 and I will continue to work on negotiations where the final quotas for 2014 were not settled at this council.”
But the FIF said it totally disagrees with the 9% reduction in the prawn quota, and claims there is no justification for it as the fishery was the same this year as it has been for the last number of years.
Mr O’Donnell claimed it will cost the Irish economy €15m.
No resolution was agreed on a long-running row over mackerel fishing involving EU states and Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Norway.