The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr Charlie McConalogue, T.D., has launched a consultation process on a review of the 2012 Herring Management Policy, in relation to the quantity of herring set aside from the southern North-West herring stock (Herring 6A South) for smaller/ inshore fishing vessels.
The Minister received a request from the Chairs of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum (NIFF) and North Regional Inshore Fisheries Forum (RIFF) for a review of the 6A South Herring Policy of 2012, in relation to inshore vessels.
Minister McConalogue said he has carefully considered the request from the NIFF and RIFF and he is satisfied that there are sufficient changed circumstances to justify a limited review of the 2012 Policy, in relation to the quantity of herring set aside from the Herring 6A South quota for the inshore fleet.
“Inshore fishing families are the linchpin of rural coastal communities and it is important that we continue to seek ways to improve fishing opportunities for this sector,” he said.
The Herring Management Policy of 2012 Herring 6A South stock sets aside 5% of the quota for vessels under 20 metres in length that did not have a qualifying track record for the fishery.
Minister McConalogue continued, “When the 5% provision was set in the 2012 Herring Management Policy, it reflected an expectation that Ireland would have a reasonable quota available to it, as had been the case in the years prior to the setting of the Policy.
“I am open to considering amendments to this part of the policy so that inshore vessels have a reasonable allocation available to them when the quota available is low, taking into account that this stock is important for our inshore vessels,” he said.
Minister McConalogue added; “We are moving into a better place with this fishery following years when the fishery was closed for commercial fishing because it was in a poor state. The scientific advice on the state of the stock is now positive and we can look forward to a good fishery for the fishing fleet, both for inshore and offshore vessels.
“This demonstrates clearly that taking strong conservation measures, when necessary, rebuilds fish stocks. I appreciate fully the strong support given by our fishers for these conservation measures even though they were deprived of a commercial fishery for 6 years,” he said.
The Minister said, “I will shortly be inviting stakeholders and in particular those involved in the fishery over recent years to submit their views. To assist consideration, I asked my Department to prepare a consultation paper setting out the background and giving possible options. I look forward to good engagement from stakeholders including any alternative proposals put forward during the consultation.
Following the consultation, I will consider all the issues involved and make a decision on any justified amendment to the 2012 Policy including any new arrangement in the interim or on a longer-term basis,” he said.