Over fishing of herring and mackerel

THE European Commission today adopted a Commission Regulation which provides for the reduction of certain fishing quotas for the UK and Ireland over the period 2007 to 2012. This is in response to overfishing of herring and mackerel quotas during the period 2001 to 2005 and is expected to have “big implications” for this year’s summer herring fishery according to an industry spokesman.

The Commission says the decision follows on from in-depth investigations conducted by the UK authorities in 2005 and 2006. The reductions made by the Commission will be spread over a number of years, in order to avoid undue negative social and economic impacts on the fleets and processing industry affected by the reductions. For this reason also, the maximum annual reduction under this regulation will be 15% of the annual quota to be set by the Council in future TACs and quotas regulations. The Regulation will come into effect seven days after its publication in the Official Journal.

European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Joe Borg commented, “Over quota landings has a cost not only on account of their impact on the fish stocks but also in economic and social terms for the industry concerned. I welcome the full cooperation of both the UK and Ireland in this matter. We now need to move forward to ensure that this type of activities cannot happen again.”

Investigations by the UK authorities revealed that over the period 2001-2004, the UK’s national quotas were exceeded by 112,546 tonnes in the case of mackerel and 43,961 tonnes in the case of herring. Over the same period the Irish mackerel quota was overfished by

33,486 tonnes. It was also discovered that in 2005, the UK mackerel quota was again exceeded by 5, 090 tonnes. The UK informed the Commission and Ireland of its findings, and the two Member States then reported details of the overfishing to the Commission, in full compliance with their obligations under Community law.

The Commission’s decision is based on the provisions in the Basic Regulation on the Common Fisheries Policy. The relevant provision stipulates that when Member States exceed the fishing opportunities allocated to them, deductions will be made from their future fishing opportunities. Since the Commission has sole competence to decide such deductions, today’s Regulation will automatically come into force seven days after its publication in the Official Journal.

The final amounts to be deducted are equivalent to the amounts overfished. However, a correction factor of 73% is applied to the quantities of mackerel fished between 2001 and 2004, reflecting the significant downward trend in mackerel quotas over that period. This is so as to avoid a disproportionate impact on the industry which, of course, includes the many honest fishermen who have fished within the law. The reduction corresponding to the overfishing of mackerel by the UK in 2005 will be made in its entirety in 2007.

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