Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, travels to Brussels today for the annual negotiation of fishing quotas. It is the first such meeting since the Dáil declared a biodiversity and climate emergency in May and the last meeting before the legally binding deadline of 2020 to end all overfishing. To-date, with less than half of fish populations hunted at sustainable limits in Irish waters, there remains a challenge ahead if this target is to be met [i]
Last week, the European Commission unveiled its ‘Green New Deal’ and this explicitly includes the protection of oceans and biodiversity. At a very minimum the level of ambition must be set at adhering to existing legislation. Unfortunately, with scientists advising that a number of catch limits be set at zero, this means closing certain fisheries.
IWT Campaign Officer Pádraic Fogarty says, “The Minister has said that it is a ‘twin challenge’ to protect the fishing industry while simultaneously staying within sustainable limits [ii]
. However there is no fishing in a dead ocean – the approach of trying to balance environmental protection with economic exploitation has led us to the crisis we are in with collapsing ocean ecosystems”.
The IWT believes that fishing can only take place within the limits that nature provides. This will mean transforming how the industry operates, including phasing out bottom trawling, designating large and effective Marine Protected Areas and strictly managing all fishing activities so that livelihoods and marine life can be protected.