The EU, Norway and Faroes have today signed a tripartite agreement in Bergen, Norway setting the TAC for mackerel for 2019 at 653,438 tonnes a 20% reduction on this year’s TAC. The Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO) is very disappointed, but not surprised, at the outcome given that the scientific advice issued at the end of September was recommending a much larger reduction of 61%. The KFO is highly critical of the scientific advice which is not only calling for massive 61% reduction but is also stating that the stock is in decline since 2011. One positive outcome from the agreement is that the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has agreed to carry out a re-evaluation of the mackerel advice in early 2019.
Reacting on the conclusion of discussions in Bergen, KFO CEO, Seán O’Donoghue commented:
“I am obviously very disappointed with the reduction but under the circumstances given the large reduction of 61 % advised by ICES, the hands of the three parties were tied into a reduction. ~At least, they decided on a common-sense approach to take the reduction over a two year period. I am very confident the second part of reduction will not be required as the scientific advice is not correct. I look forward to the outcome of re-evaluation by ICES in early 2019 which I expect will confirm the industry view that there is a still a very healthy mackerel stock in the North East Atlantic. This has been evidenced, not only by the Irish pelagic fleet but also all other pelagic fleets which have encountered large shoals of mackerel over the entire distribution area. Based upon these observations, we believe the stock size has greatly increased. This increase in the stock size is not confined to one area, nor observed by only one fleet. This is contrary to ICES stated view that the stock is declining since 2011.”
He added: “This is yet another major mistake in the mackerel advice not to mention the mistakes made last year and again this year on Atlanto Scandia herring. I am very concerned that ICES does not have a fit-for-purpose quality assurance system in place. This must be addressed as matter of urgency. There have been far too many mistakes over the last number of years and it is undermining confidence in the scientific advice.”
He concluded: “This is the final year of the 2014 Three Parties Agreement (EU, Norway and Faroes) and the three parties have agreed to extend the agreement for a further two years.”
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EU, Norway and Faroes agree 20% cut in mackerel for 2019 KFO highly critical of scientific advice provided