quota balancing policy for whitefish stock begins on July 1, 2019, and applies to landings that exceed a vessel’s catch limit during a fishery management period.

Any fish landed in excess of a vessel’s assigned limit must be paid back by means of a deduction from a future allocation. Where the excess is greater than 10%, a higher ratio of payback will apply to the full excess.

This pilot scheme will initially apply to five main commercial stocks; further stocks will be subject to quota balancing on a phased basis.

Conservation tool

The quota balancing policy is described as a ‘conservation tool’ to support the fishing industry in fully implementing the discards ban/ landing obligation that requires fishers to land all of their catch.

“I fully appreciate that the discards ban has  brought about a  change of practice for many Irish fishers,” remarked Micheal Creed, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The pilot scheme was developed following a public consultation and discussions with the Quota Management Advisory Committee.

The scheme “promotes conservation of Irish fishing quotas and also supports coherence between the discards ban and the effective management of the quotas,” Minister Creed explained.

A pilot scheme for pelagic stocks was introduced on January 1, 2018.

Background

A Quota Balancing system is being introduced to assist with the full implementation of the Landing Obligation. A quota balancing system is a conservation measure to assist the Minister to match available quota to actual catch so that incentives to discard are reduced.

Quota balancing means that any fish landed in excess of a vessel’s assigned limit must be paid back by means of a deduction from a future allocation. Where the excess is less than 10%, a payback ratio of 1: 1 applies to the full excess. Where the excess is greater than 10%, a higher payback ratio will be applied to the full excess, ranging from a payback ratio of 1: 1.2 and up to 1: 2.

In Ireland, quota is a public resource and is managed to ensure that property rights are not granted to individual operators.

This is seen as critical to ensure that quotas are not concentrated into the hands of large internationally-owned fishing companies whose owners have the financial resources to buy up such rights but have no ties to Ireland’s coastal communities.

Quota Balancing by the Department is independent of any action being considered or taken by the control authorities.