Post Brexit negotiations between the EU and UK on fishing quotas for shared fish stocks, which commenced in early November were still deadlocked ahead of the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers that commenced on Sunday and finished early this morning. In light of that situation, Fisheries Ministers decided to set provisional fish quotas for EU fishers for the first quarter of 2022 in the event that an agreement is not reached before the end of the year.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. Charlie McConalogue said, “It is regrettable that the negotiations with the UK on fish quotas for shared stocks, which started on 11 November, could not be concluded ahead of the Council. These negotiations with the UK have proved to be very difficult and it is in Ireland’s interest that the EU is not rushed into an unacceptable deal. To avoid any disruption to our fleets, we have agreed provisional fish quotas for the first quarter of 2022. The EU remains committed to securing a balanced and sustainable agreement with the UK.”
The Council of Ministers agreed to set provisional quotas for the EU industry, to the end of March, at the level of 25% of the 2021 quotas. Given the seasonal nature of certain fisheries, Minister McConalogue ensured that the quotas made available for those fisheries that take place predominantly in the first three months of the year meets the seasonal patterns of these fisheries. The final outcome was that the full 2022 annual quotas for mackerel, blue whiting and Norwegian herring were agreed as well as 70 per cent of the full year quota for Horse Mackerel.
In addition, Minister McConalogue ensured that half of the quota for Prawns on the Porcupine Bank to the West of Ireland and 85% of the whiting stock in the Celtic sea is available in the first quarter, to reflect the seasonality of these important fisheries.
Minister McConalogue said, “I was pleased that Commissioner Sinkevičius accepted our request to provide for our seasonal fisheries by providing adequate quota to enable the Irish fishing industry to pursue these economically important fisheries from the beginning of January. The Council also agreed to my request to apply the Hague Preferences, which benefit Ireland when stocks are at low levels.”
In respect of the actions by Norway and the Faroes Islands, in unilaterally setting unacceptably high quotas for mackerel for 2021, Minister McConalogue said “I asked the EU to work with like-minded partners to secure fair and balanced mackerel shares for coastal states in 2022. I made clear that the EU must be prepared to take all appropriate measures if Norway and Faroes again set such unsustainable quotas for 2022. This level of overfishing resulting from these inflated unilateral quotas will, in short time, deplete this stock which is economically very important for our own fishing fleet. ”
Minister McConalogue also welcomed the commitment secured from the Commission to examine and produce proposals, by the 31st of March next year, on the allocation and distribution of an EU mackerel quota historically linked to an agreement with Norway. The Minister said “I was satisfied that the Council agreed that the mackerel quota in question has been suspended, pending the outcome of a thorough assessment involving the Commission and Member States. I will continue to engage actively on the issue and look forward to examining the Commission proposals.”
The Council will finalise the list of all provisional TACs and Quotas agreed in the coming days