Drastic cuts in prawn and cod catches recommended

COD stocks were brought closer to extinction over the past year, warns the European Commission, which recommends that catches be cut by a quarter next year.

But while this is bad news for Irish fishermen, they say a 30% cut proposed for prawns is even more drastic.

Prawn is their second-biggest catch after mackerel and this huge reduction spells trouble for much of the industry.

The proposals were released by the European Commission yesterday and will be the subject of negotiations at national and EU level over the coming weeks before a final agreement is made in mid-December.

After signs last year that cod was recovering, the latest scientific evidence shows this has been reversed and its stocks are now in serious danger in a number of the EU’s major fisheries as more cod was caught last year than in any year since 1999.

“What is more, there are not enough older, spawning fish and less young fish coming into the stock than at any time since 2005,” said Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg.

Despite shutting down whole cod areas to fishermen, stocks have not improved. As cod are caught as a by-product by fishermen looking for other species, the only solution now is to reduce the time fishermen can spend at sea, he said.

The proposed 30% cut in Ireland’s prawns fishery is completely unacceptable, said Lorcán Ó Cinnéide of the Irish Fish Producers’ Organisation. The cut is not in response to a drop in stocks, but to a change in the way the commission uses the science, he said.

Fishermen had proposed the prawn fishery in the Porcupine Bank to the west of Ireland be closed for three months next year, resulting in only a small decrease in quota, he argued.

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