The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, T.D., presented the Sea Fisheries Sustainability Impact Assessment to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture and the Marine today. The Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) is carried out each year to examine the implications for Ireland of the European Commission’s proposal for the fixing of Total Allowable Catches (TACs) for the coming year.
The SIA draws its conclusions from a consultation process with stakeholders, a public consultation and expert contributions from the Marine Institute and BIM. The Minister discussed the analysis and conclusions with the Committee. The SIA is available at www.gov.ie/en/publication/eb965-2021-sustainability-impact-assessment-of-eu-fishing-opportunities-proposal/ .
Minister McConalogue stated, “The SIA looks at the overall impacts the proposal could have on the sustainability of the fishing sector from a biological, economic and social perspective. This makes it an essential part of the preparation for the fisheries negotiations setting quotas for 2021. I will ensure that the views and comments of the members of the Committee are taken into account to inform Ireland’s position in these negotiations.”
This year, for the first time, the European Commission will need to negotiate with the UK as a Coastal State on TAC-setting for shared stocks. This means that, for most of the stocks of interest to Ireland, the Commission has not yet made a TAC proposal. Therefore, the scientific advice from ICES (the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) was used as the basis for this year’s SIA.
The Minister said, “The ICES advice provides suitable guidance for the TAC figures which will be proposed by the Commission. This ensured the SIA could go ahead and allowed for a meaningful public consultation and realistic engagement with our stakeholders and with the Joint Oireachtas Committee, including a meeting with the main stakeholders, the fishing industry representative bodies and environmental NGOs.’’
The Minister took this opportunity to updated the Committee on the Ministerial meeting of the Group of 8 Member States most directly impacted with EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier.
The Minister added, “There was good and meaningful engagement with the Committee on the huge challenges facing the fishing sector as we are facing into the end stages in the negotiations and a Fisheries Agreement remains one of the most difficult areas. I advised the Committee that I had strongly pressed Mr Barnier to negotiate a fair and balanced fisheries agreement using the leverage of the linkage with the overall Future Relationship Agreement and Mr Barnier expressed his clear intention to make use of the linkage to the fullest possible extent.”
The Minister today also received the 2020 Marine Institute Stock Book. The Stock Book, which is one of the principal annual publications of the MI, provides scientific advice on commercially exploited fish stocks of interest to Ireland.
Minister McConalogue said: “The Stock Book provides the most up-to-date scientific advice on the stocks fished by the Irish fleet and is a critical component of our annual preparation for TAC setting.”
The Stock Book is available electronically on the Marine Institute’s website (www.marine.ie) and as an interactive app.