The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr Charlie McConalogue, today announced the outcome of the limited review of the 2012 Herring Management Policy in relation to the Herring 6a South quota for non-ringfenced vessels.
Following a request from the chairs of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum (NIFF) and North Regional Inshore Fisheries Forum (NRIFF), the Minister undertook a full public consultation earlier this year, which attracted almost 90 submissions. There was a wide diversity of views expressed in these submissions, which will be published on the Department’s website.
The Minister examined the issues raised during the public consultation process and, following a detailed evaluation, has decided to set a minimum allocation of Herring 6a South quota for non-ringfenced vessels under 20 metres in length overall, when Ireland’s quota for the stock falls below a certain threshold.
Minister McConalogue said “I have carefully considered all views submitted during the public consultation process and I believe there is a reasonable case for allocating a set quantity of the Herring 6A South quota for the non-ringfenced vessels when Ireland’s quota for the stock is low.”
In 2022, the scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) was that both Herring stocks in the North-West (6a South and 6a North) could be managed as commercial stocks in 2023, following a scientific fishery only from 2016-2022. The public consultation carried out by the Minister related to the southern North-West Herring stock (Herring 6a South and 7bc) only. Ireland’s quota for this stock for 2023 is set at 1,720 tonnes.
The Minister’s Herring Management Policy of 2012 sets aside 5% of the 6a South quota for vessels under 20 metres in length overall that did not have a qualifying track record for the fishery.
Minister McConalogue continued “When the 5% provision was set in the 2012 Herring Management Policy, it reflected an expectation that Ireland would have a reasonable quota available to it, as had been the case in the years prior to setting the policy. Inshore fishing families are the linchpin of rural coastal communities, and this change will improve fishing opportunities for this sector.”
The Minister has decided that where Ireland’s North-West Herring quota (6a South & 7bc) in the annual Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and Quota Regulation is less than 7,000 tonnes, for 2023 and future years, the 2012 Herring Policy will be modified, and a set quantity of herring will be made available for non-ringfenced vessels (vessels less than 20 metres in length overall), at a level of 350 tonnes; of which, 95% will be allocated to vessels less than 15 metres in length overall, and 5% to vessels equal to or greater than 15 metres in length overall but less than 20 metres in length overall. Any adjustments (swaps, carry-over/deductions as provided by EU Regulation) will not be taken into account for establishing this threshold.
Where Ireland’s North-West Herring quota (6a South & 7bc) in the annual TAC and Quota Regulation is equal to or greater than 7,000 tonnes, quota will be allocated in accordance with the 2012 Herring Policy.
Minister McConalogue concluded “I appreciate fully the strong support given by our fishermen for these conservation measures and for the advice received from the North-West Herring Stakeholder Group during the scientific fishery.”
There are two separate herring stocks off the North-West coast of Ireland. Ireland has a quota for both stocks. The first herring stock is found in Zone 6aS 1, 7b, 7c (Divisions 6.a South of 56°00’N and West of 07°00’W and 7.b–c (North-West and West of Ireland)) (‘6A South’ quota). The second herring stock is found in Zone 6b and 6aN; United Kingdom and international waters of 5b2 (Division 6.a (North), autumn spawners (West of Scotland)) (‘6A North’ quota).
The Herring stock in 6A South is of more importance and interest to Ireland, given that Ireland has the majority share of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of herring in 6A South. Furthermore, from a geographical perspective, the area 6A South has contact with the Irish coastline in the North-West of Ireland whereas the area 6A North does not. The main stock of interest for the inshore fishers is the 6A South herring stock. Under the 2012 Herring Management Policy, vessels under 10 metres do not have access to an allocation of quota for the herring stock in 6A North.
In accordance with the 2012 Herring Management Policy, the North-West Herring fishery has a ringfenced group for vessels of 10 metres and over, length overall, who have established the necessary track record in the years 2006-2010.
For full details of the Minister’s decision, please visit gov.ie – Fisheries – Policy/ Quota Management (www.gov.ie).