THERE is a sense of deja vu about the latest deal on Irish fish quotas.
The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has secured 233,500 tonnes of quotas, worth €280m, for Irish fishermen for 2017. This represents an increase of 17,390 tonnes over 2016. The minister finalised the deal in the early hours of Wednesday morning, following two days of negotiations at the Fisheries Council, in Brussels.
Switch back to December 16, 2015, and then fishing minister, Simon Coveney, who was in Brussels. It was also in the early hours of a Wednesday morning that he secured — again after two days of negotiations — a 10% increase in our whitefish quota for 2016. His deal was valued at €131m, but Minister Creed’s is more than double that.
Minister Creed appeared a little self-congratulatory yesterday, when he said he had “managed to turn an extremely worrying set of proposals from the Commission into a much-improved outcome for the Irish fishing industry.”
Perhaps he is entitled to give himself a clap on the back for securing some short-term relief for the industry, but the longer outlook remains gloomy, with declining stocks of cod in the Celtic Sea and of sole in the Irish Sea.
As Canada, and other countries, have learned to their cost, over-fishing can have devastating effects. In Newfoundland, more than 40,000 people lost their jobs when cod disappeared. That remains a danger we must avoid at all costs.
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