The outcome of the annual coastal states mackerel negotiations have been described as disappointing but not surprising by the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation. These negotiations between the EU, Norway, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland, focus on ‘sustainable management’ of the €1bn fishery in the North East Atlantic.

Mackerel quotas 2018

Ireland secured a quota of 69,143 tonnes with a corresponding landing value of €70m. The sharing arrangement agreed in 2014 between EU, Faeroes and Norway which is due to expire at the end of 2018, holds ‘an amount’ in reserve to accommodate other parties, according the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Minister Creed explained that while the stock was in “good shape”, new scientific advice recommended a precautionary approach “for long-term sustainability”, underpinning the quota reduction.

Accordingly, following assessment of scientific advice by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) and discussions with the Marine Institute and industry stakeholders, “I supported a reduction,” he remarked.

KFO chief executive Sean O’Donoghue said he was satisfied that the mackerel stock in the North East Atlantic was in a healthy state.

“This has been evidenced not only by the Irish pelagic fleet but also by all other pelagic fleets which have encountered large shoals of mackerel over the entire distribution area which has expanded both south and north.

“Based on these observations, the industry believes the stock size has greatly increased” and is not confined to one area nor observed by only one fleet, he added.

Following the 53% reduction advised by ICES compared to 2017 catches, “It was the best that could be achieved,” he said.

The main considerations behind the reduction was the correction following incorrect ICES advice in January; significant changes in the assessment due to benchmarking in February and a change in fishing mortality.

When the current agreement concludes at the end of 2018, “it is imperative that Minister Creed redresses the loss of the EU percentage share in the 2014 agreement,” he added.