Quota policy a ‘threat to fishing’

FISHING representative groups have warned that current proposals for reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) could further threaten an already ailing industry.

The Federation of Irish Fishermen (FIF) and the Irish Fishermen’s Organisation (IFO) yesterday called on the Government to secure a rise in fish quotas for fishermen at forthcoming talks on reviewing the CFP in Brussels in order to guarantee livelihoods in the sector.

Seán O’Donoghue of the FIF highlighted how Irish fishermen are only entitled to catch 18% of all fish in Ireland’s exclusive economic zone which are worth almost €1.2 billion. The majority are caught by Spanish, British and French trawlers.

“There is a huge resource off our coast but we are constrained by the share we can catch,” Mr O’Donoghue told the Oireachtas Committee on Natural Resources and Agriculture.

The FIF criticised proposals by the European Commission to make it mandatory on all members states to allow for individual transferable quotas.

Mr O’Donoghue said such a measure represented a serious threat to the Irish fishing industry for white fish and pelagic fish as large foreign players would come in and buy up quotas owned by Irish operators.

He said Ireland is only allowed a less than 12% share of key white fish stocks in its own waters.

While the FIF supported maintenance of the existing system for quotas and total allowable catch sizes, it objects to the “days at sea” rule which limits the number of days which trawlers can engage in fishing.

The FIF also expressed concern that Ireland has to fight each year at the EU Fisheries Council to protect fishing rights granted under the Hague Resolution 1976.

The Irish Fishermen’s Organisation described the present quota system as “ridiculous” where fish were thrown back into the sea if a quota was exceeded.

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