25 November 2008
No one should underestimate the achievement of keeping the Celtic Sea out of the EU cod recovery plan – and free of days-at-sea restrictions, at least for the time being.
Although the trends in the fishery (fishing effort falling and biomass up) supported the view that there was scant justification for including the Celtic Sea in the cumbersome and draconian EU regime, the Commission had made no secret of its plans to extend the cod recovery zone. The French (who hold the EU Presidency) also wanted to strike a deal that would have seen the extension of effort control to the Celtic Sea. It was against this difficult background that the NFFO and its member organisation the Cornish Fish Producers’ Organisation, argued the case for an alternative approach in pre-council meetings with officials and the UK Minister Huw Irranca-Davies.
The UK in making this case in the Council was clearly persuasive and attracted supportive comments from other member states, including Ireland, the other big player in the Celtic Sea. The Commission eventually accepted the strength of opposition and removed the Celtic Sea from its proposals but with a note to the effect that the issue will be revisited next year.
This provides a breathing space and an opportunity to build and strengthen the alternative to days at sea restrictions. There will be various elements in the alternative approach, including:
- The Trevose Closure which makes a real contribution to the reduction of fishing mortality on cod
- Reducing the uncertainties in the ICES assessment through fisheries science partnerships
- Accurately monitoring the trends in the fishery, particularly identifying fishing effort trends
- The development of targeted measures where high mortalities or discards are detected
A better description and therefore understanding, of the highly mixed mixed Celtic Sea fleets partly through the Annual Fisheries Reports currently being developed by the NFFO, CFPO and Seafood Cornwall.