Fisheries Minister Michelle O’Neill has met with the Fishing Industry Task Force to discuss next year’s fishing opportunities ahead of next month’s Fisheries Council in Brussels.
Following the meeting in Belfast, Minister O’Neill said: “The annual fisheries negotiations are rapidly approaching and this was a vital opportunity to meet industry representatives to assess recently released scientific advice for prawns and identify our priorities for these and other species at the December Fisheries Council.
“Industry representatives were keen for the local fleet to become less reliant on the Nephrops fishery and there was constructive discussion on developing a more diverse and sustainable mixed fishery in the Irish Sea.
“The negotiations will be complicated this year because the fish landing obligation will apply to some fisheries. This means that fish previously discarded will have to be landed and some fish quotas will have to be increased appropriately. Our prawn fishermen will have to land all marketable prawns in 2016 and whitefish vessels in the Irish Sea will have to land all catches of haddock. The landing obligation already applies to pelagic fish such as herring and mackerel and it must be fully implemented for all other quota species by 2019.
“Our fishing fleet has played a leading role in developing fishing gear that selects out unwanted fish and my Department is committed to continuing close working with the fishing industry to further improve selectivity.”