The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., today hosted the 13th meeting of the National Inshore Fisheries Forum (NIFF). The Inshore Fisheries Forum structures, which include NIFF and six Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums (RIFFs), were established in 2014 to foster stakeholder-led development of proposals for the inshore sector.
Minister Creed announced that he expects to publish a consultation paper to review the options for more restricted access for large fishing vessels fishing by means of trawls inside Ireland’s six nautical mile zone. This issue has been the subject of scientific and economic reports by the Marine Institute and Bord Iascaigh Mhara and some preliminary engagement with fisheries representative groups, including the NIFF.
Minster Creed said, “I recognise that this issue has been raised by the National Inshore Fisheries Forum since its inception and that there are concerns about the relatively open access for large trawlers to our inshore areas. The Inshore fisheries sector (including Coastal and Island fisherman) is dependent on inshore fish stocks. I am open to looking at the benefits, from an economic perspective for the inshore fleet of introducing some restrictions on large vessels. This could also have a positive biological impact on fish stocks and bio-diversity. I am awaiting a paper from the Department setting out the issues, possible benefits and options to inform my consideration of the issues and possible impacts, both positive and negative. I am planning to undertake a public consultation on the options and to hear and understand the diverse interests of stakeholders to ensure that any new measures introduced are fair and balanced.”
The Minister and the NIFF also discussed feedback on recent public consultations on conservation measures for brown crab and razor clams. The consultations were held following recommendations from the NIFF and the measures are under consideration for their potential benefits to protect fish stocks in the long term. The Minister also discussed the impact of Brexit on the fishing sector.
The National Inshore Fisheries Forum also updated the Minister on its progress in preparing a sector-specific strategy for the first time. Supported by BIM and a steering group including the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Marine Institute and the SFPA, consultants are facilitating the preparation of an Inshore Fisheries Strategy on behalf of the NIFF. Steps taken to date include preliminary consultation, a workshop with the Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums and feedback sessions with the Steering Group. The Minister welcomed the news that the next expected output is a draft strategy document for public consultation.
Notes for Editors
Razor Clam in North Irish Sea
The NIFF recommended the Minister hold a public consultation on a proposal is to increase the minimum conservation reference size for razor clams in the North Irish Sea. The change, if implemented would require that only Razor Clams with a minimum size of 125mm could be landed. Currently any razor clams over 100mm may be landed. Feedback from the consultation demonstrates positive support for the conservation measure and also identified potential additional management measures.
This industry-led proposal also seeks to increase the minimum conservation reference size, this time for brown crab. The change, if implemented would require that only brown crab with a minimum size of 140mm could be landed.
The proposal was put forward by the members of the fishing industry through the South East Regional Inshore Fisheries Forum and received positive support from the consultation process.
Source: Press and Information Office Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine , An Roinn Talamhaíochta, Bia agus Mara