Fishing Industry Cautious on Nor-EU Deal

Norway’s gains under their latest EU deal allows them to catch 4.5 times our blue whiting quota in our own EEZ. That’s according to Irish fishing industry leaders who welcome Norway’s exclusion from the Irish Box but say Ireland still lacks an equitable arrangement.

“Norway have been allocated an extra 36,000MT of blue whiting in the Irish EEZ, compared to just 4,800MT extra blue whiting for Ireland,” says Aodh O Donnell, chief executive of the Irish Fish Producers Organisation. (IFPO). O Donnell says fishing representatives took time to carefully consider the new deal, ironically struck on St Patrick’s Day, before responding.

“Norway, a non-EU member still secured more out of the deal then Ireland.”

“They can now catch 224,000 Metric Tonnes (MT) of blue whiting, west of Ireland, whereas we can catch a maximum of 52,000MT in our own waters. In return, Ireland gets just over 258MT of arctic cod and access to Norwegian waters to fish 2,640 tonnes of Atlantic Scandia herring.”

“In addition, Ireland benefits from 4,800MT of blue whiting from other member states. This transfer includes a paltry volume of 2,400MT in lieu of Norway having access to the Irish EEZ – outside the Irish Box – to catch an additional 36,000MT of blue whiting. If you do the sums, you can see they can catch almost 5 times more blue whiting in Irish waters than we can. This last-minute St Patrick’s Day deal does nothing to address Ireland’s unfair share of EU fishing quotas and rights.”

However, Mr O Donnell said the industry counted it as ‘a win’ that the EU refused to grant Norway their unreasonable request for unfettered fishing rights inside the Irish Box. “We feel this was due to intense joint lobbying efforts with other fishing organisations. Our industry united as never before to make our voice heard and we are proud of what we achieved together. We feel there has been a discernible shift in attitude at both Dept of the Marine and EU level towards our fishing industry.”

Brendan Byrne of the Irish Fish Processors and Exporters Association (IFPEA) said Brexit was part of the problem leading to this latest deal. “After Brexit, Norway was excluded from UK waters. That displacement brought them into Irish waters to fish their blue whiting quota. Ireland had already donated 40% of the EU’s quota allocation to the UK so were already the biggest losers post-Brexit. Norway’s increased fishing off our coast thus exacerbated an already grave situation.”

“The Irish Government and the EU have taken too much from Ireland for too long in fishing, so that others can benefit. This has led to the total decline of our industry, while countries like Norway see massive growth in their seafood sector.”

Aodh O Donnell says the Irish fishing industry continues to suffer. “And that’s despite having the largest fishing grounds in western Europe with the richest supply of stocks. Ireland must not be forced to pay because Norway was displaced by the UK, under Brexit. We must not allow Ireland to be the whipping boy anymore. Our challenge now is to keep collaborating cohesively as an industry. We will keep making our voice heard at home and in Europe until we achieve positive growth for the fishing and seafood industry.”