Negotiations on the 2016 fishing quotas concluded in Brussels this week. Despite the reductions that had been proposed by the European Commission in advance of the negotiations, the outcome according to the Minister for Agriculture is that the industry will have an additional 10% of whitefish to catch in 2016; worth approximately €10m.
- in the northwest there will be a 26% increase in the quota for megrim, 20% for monkfish and 42% for haddock;
- in the south and west there will be a 26% increase in whiting, and a 21% increase in the hake quota;
- in the Irish Sea there will be a 40% increase in the haddock quota;
- in the north and west there will be a 48% increase in quota for the horse mackerel quota which will equate to just over 32,000 tonnes in 2016;
- in the Irish Sea and off the west coast there will be a reduction in the quota for cod;
- in the Irish Sea the boarfish and sole quotas have also been reduced; and
- for the prawn fishery there will be an 8% increase in quota.
Further scientific advice is being sought in relation to the possibility of establishing a small herring fishery off the west and northwest coast. This is to take account of a ban on discarding at sea of several whitefish species, which will come into force in January. Vessels will have to land these fish, which are then offset against their quota.
Under the new policy, quotas are set as high as possible while still ensuring stock sustainability – an approach known as maximum sustainable yield (MSY). Ireland's most important whitefish stock is prawns, worth nearly €60m to the industry.
A further deal between Ireland and Britain governing northwest herring, a very valuable fishery for Ireland will have to be agreed in February 2016.