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Minister Coveney Introduces Management Measures for Non-Commercial Pot Fishing

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney T.D. has signed a statutory instrument to introduce management measures from the start of February for non-commercial pot fishing for crab and lobster.  The introduction of the measures follows an extensive consultation process involving the National and Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums (RIFFs) and a public consultation facilitated both in writing and online. 

Speaking about the introduction of the new measures the Minister said: “I believe these new measures balance the potential for continued enjoyment of pot-fishing for crab and lobster as a pastime with the need to manage the activity to deter illegal fishing and support efforts for sustainable stock management.  Every marine user has a part to play in contributing to healthy marine ecosystems and sustainable fisheries so that we can all continue to enjoy the benefits Ireland’s marine resources afford us long into the future.  I would like to thank the National Inshore Fisheries Forum and the six multi-stakeholder RIFFs for their support in developing these measures.”

Commercial sea-fishing is a highly regulated activity, and sea-fishermen must meet the requirements for a sea fishing licence, the requirement to fit out a safe and seaworthy vessel and the costs associated with both.  A range of conservation measures apply to species fished by pots, including minimum landing sizes for crabs, minimum and maximum landing sizes for lobster and a prohibition on the sale of lobsters that have been v-notched. 

The new management measures were developed following an examination of the current regulatory environment and consideration of a number of options for regulating non-commercial pot-fishing.  Illegal, unregulated fishing by unregistered boats was a significant cause for concern in a number of areas as well as resource competition at certain times of the year.    

The Minister also stressed that sustainable fisheries and sustainable seafood are a key focus of the new €240 million development programme for Ireland’s seafood sector:

“Last week I launched the initial tranche of schemes to provide Exchequer and EMFF funding to Irish fishing and seafood operators.  The Programme has been designed to assist Ireland’s seafood sector and coastal communities to adapt to the significant reforms in the new Common Fisheries Policy and to build a successful, sustainable industry that delivers jobs and incomes. Further schemes will be launched in the coming weeks and months.”

Notes for Editors:

The statutory instrument signed by the Minister today introduces a range of new management measures for non-commercial pot fishing for crab and lobster. The new measures apply from 1 February 2016 to fishing boats fishing within the internal waters or territorial seas of the State. However, they do not apply to a fishing boat fishing outside the internal waters or territorial seas of the State or to a licensed fishing boat.

The new measures include:

  • introducing a closed season during the months of October, November, December, January, February, March and April;
  • limiting landings to no more than one lobster and five crab per fishing boat in a 24-hour period;
  • requiring all lobsters containing a V notch and all mutilated lobsters taken by a fishing boat to be returned alive to the sea without delay;
  • limiting a fishing boat to deploying no more than six pots in the sea at any one time, and
  • prohibiting storing in the sea a crab or lobster that has a nicked or banded claw.

These measures are similar to restrictions that apply in Northern Ireland under the “Unlicensed Fishing for Crabs and Lobster Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2008”.

The Minister launched the National Inshore Fisheries Forum, based on a network of multi-stakeholder Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums, in May 2014 to foster industry-led regional and national development of proposals.  The Forums are built on a ground-up structure and nominations were facilitated by the Fisheries Local Action Groups for their coastal regions.

The Regional Inshore Fisheries Forums are:

  • North RIFF (Donegal),
  • Northwest RIFF (Sligo, Mayo)
  • West RIFF (Galway, Clare),
  • Southwest RIFF (Cork, Kerry)
  • South East RIFF (Waterford, Wexford Wicklow),
  • North East RIFF (Dublin, Meath, Louth)

Membership of each RIFF includes inshore fishermen (two thirds) plus seafood processors, environmental interests and other marine users.  The Chair and Vice-Chair of each Regional Inshore Fisheries Forum represent their region at the National Inshore Fisheries Forum.  The Minister, DAFM, Marine Institute, BIM and SFPA are committed to working with the National and Regional Forums, and the process is a two-way street for the development of inshore fisheries policy and management plans.

Details of the proposals for the management of non-commercial pot fishing for lobster and crab which were published for public consultation in 2015 can be found on the Department’s website.