Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D., today (21 December 2018) announced the outcome of the review of trawling activity inside the 6 nautical mile zone.
The Minister undertook an extensive public consultation from 30 April until 11 June 2018 which attracted over nine hundred submissions. There was a wide diversity of views expressed in these submissions, which is published on the Department’s website here.
The Minister carefully considered the issues raised during the public consultation process and, following a detailed evaluation, has decided to exclude trawling by fishing vessels over 18 metres from inshore waters inside the six nautical mile zone and the baselines from 1 January 2020.
Minister Creed said; “I believe there is a compelling case for excluding trawling by large vessels in coastal waters inside six nautical miles. I am satisfied that there are sufficient fishing opportunities for these vessels outside of six nautical miles. I also believe that these actions will provide wider ecosystem benefits, including for nursery areas and juvenile fish stocks. I am very conscious of the exclusive reliance of small scale and island fishermen on inshore waters and the benefits this change will bring for those fishermen. I firmly believe that this will, in the medium term, provide ecosystem and nursery stock benefits for all fishermen.”
Minister Creed added; “I am mindful of the opportunity these measures will provide for further sustainable development of the small scale inshore and the sea angling sectors, which the Government has committed to in the Programme for a Partnership Government.”
The Minister further announced that there will be a transition period of three years for vessels over 18m targeting sprat. This transition is in order to allow a period of adjustment for these vessels, as this fishery is concentrated inside the 6 nautical mile zone.
The Minister continued; “I recognise that effective change needs time. I have had an extensive and prolonged consultation to flag consideration of change. Allowing a transition period for those vessels involved in the sprat fishery will ensure that the vessels have adequate time to transition to other fishing activities. I am asking BIM to offer affected vessel owners technical assistance to adjust to other fisheries during the transition process.”
Over 18m vessels will continue to be permitted inside 6 nautical miles to trawl for sprat only until 2022. A total allowable catch of up to 2,000 tonnes, reflecting a reduction on recent years, will be permitted for these vessels during 2020, reducing to 1,000 tonnes in 2021. All trawling activity by over 18m vessels for sprat, inside the 6 mile limit, will end from the beginning of 2022.