The Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation has said that it is disappointed but not surprised at the outcome of this week’s mackerel Coastal States negotiations in London. The KFO is however satisfied that there is a still a very healthy mackerel stock in the North East Atlantic. This has been evidenced, not only by the Irish the pelagic fleet but also all other pelagic fleets which have encountered large shoals of mackerel over the entire distribution area, which has expanded both south and north. Based upon these observations, the industry believes the stock size has greatly increased. This increase in the stock is not confined to one area, nor observed by only one fleet.
The KFO said that it underlined the huge importance of Minister Creed having retained the current sharing arrangements which he announced last July albeit following a review which was wholly unnecessary. It also emphasised how vital the agreed management strategy between EU, Norway and the Faroes which caps the mackerel TAC reduction at 20% in safeguarding Irish interests thereby affording the RSW fleet some degree of stability with the spectre of Brexit looming large on the horizon.
Reacting on the conclusion of discussions in London, KFO CEO, Seán O’Donoghue commented: “I am obviously disappointed with the reduction but under the circumstances given the large reduction of 53% advised by ICES compared to 2017 catches it was the best that could be achieved. The main factors for the reduction are the correction needed following the incorrect ICES advice given in January this year, the significant changes to the assessment due to the benchmark in February and the change in the fishing mortality.
He concluded: “Next year is the final year of the 2014 Three Parties Agreement (EU, Norway and Faroes) and it is imperative that Minister Creed redresses the loss of the EU percentage share in the 2014 agreement. I would like to acknowledge the very hands-on role taken by our officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with whom I liaised extremely closely during and prior, to these negotiations.”
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