Following a recent public consultation, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., has adopted a pilot quota balancing policy for whitefish stocks. This pilot scheme has been developed at the request of, and with the assistance of, the Quota Management Advisory Committee.
It is intended that the pilot quota balancing policy for whitefish stocks will apply from 1 July 2019. A pilot scheme for pelagic stocks was introduced by the Minister on 1 January 2018 and will continue to be in effect.
Quota balancing applies where a vessel’s landings exceed that vessel’s catch limit for 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 applies to the full excess. As this is a pilot system applicable to whitefish stocks, quota balancing will apply to five main commercial stocks initially and further stocks will be subject to quota balancing on a phased basis. The pilot quota balancing policy is a conservation tool to support the industry in fully implementing the discards ban, or landing obligation, which means that fishers have to land all of the fish that they catch.
Minister Creed while welcoming the full implementation of the discards ban, acknowledged the challenges facing the Irish fishing industry. The Minister said today “I fully appreciate that the discards ban has brought about a change of practice for many Irish fishers. I have worked with industry representatives to find a practical means to support the implementation of the discards ban. The pilot quota balancing policy promotes conservation of Irish fishing quotas and also supports coherence between the discards ban and the effective management of the quotas”.
A copy of the policy & information booklet is available on the Department’s website at the following address: https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/seafood/seafoodpolicy/forms/
Notes for Editors
The Quota Management Advisory Committee comprises fishing industry representatives from the catching and processing sectors, who make recommendations to the Minister as to the management of Irish fishing quotas.
A Quota Balancing system is being introduced to assist with the full implementation of the Landing Obligation (or ‘Discards Ban’ as it is also known), as provided for under Article 15 of Regulation (EU) No. 1380/2013. A quota balancing system is a conservation measure that will aid the Minister in matching 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 to 1 (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 to 1.2 (1: 1.2), up as far as a payback ratio of 1 to 2 (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 a 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.