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Fianna Fáil fisheries spokesperson, Pat the Cope Gallager has welcomed the recommended increase in mackerel TAC for 2020 and says increase must be passed to the fishing sector.

His comments come following the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea’s (ICES) recently offered 2020 catch advice for Northeast Atlantic mackerel, which at 922,064t up from 770,358t in 2019 represents an increase of almost 20% on 2019’s advice.

The advice for 2019 was originally set at 318 403t, however, this advice was subsequently revised upwards earlier this summer following a reassessment of the stock.

In response to the catch advice now offered for 2020, Pat the Cope Gallagher stated:

“This comes on top of the scientific advice in May 2019 which recommended a 20% increase on 2019’s Total Allowable Catch. The increase of May was not passed onto the fishing sector, therefore it follows that the Irish Quota for 2020 should increase by approx. 40% from 55,313 tons to approx.77,500 tons.

“Last year I challenged the ICES’ advice and was disappointed the Coastal States that they did not increase the TAC midterm, so it is vitally important that the sector gets the benefits next year.”

The value of this additional quota, says Pat the Cope, is in the region of €30 million at first point of sale.

Highlighting the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the magnitude of the issue with respect Ireland’s mackerel quota he concluded:

“The threat of Brexit still hangs over the fishing sector however I am confident that a deal or an extension can be agreed which would allow our fisherman to continue fishing mackerel in UK waters where we catch 60% of our mackerel.”