Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Department of Agriculture, Marine and Food
In order to protect the reproductive potential of the crawfish stock, Council Regulation No. 850/98 sets a minimum landing size of 95mm. The Regulation allows Member States to take measures for the conservation and management of stocks that go beyond the minimum requirements set by the Regulation. When the minimum landing size for crawfish specified in the Regulation was reduced in 2001 in an amending Regulation from 110mm to 95mm, this reduced size was considered by Ireland to offer inadequate protection to the reproductive potential of the stock. There were industry calls at the time for the higher minimum size to be restored in national law and this was done.
In June 2011, I asked BIM to carry out a review of the technical conservation measures (TCMs) currently in place for the crawfish stock. The review was to be conducted in conjunction with the Marine Institute and in consultation with crawfish fishermen and their representatives.
In the terms of reference for that review, I specified that the review should have regard to the negative and declining state of the crawfish stock, undesirable by-catch of non-target and possibly protected species from the use of nets by some fishermen in fishing for crawfish, the apparent market preference for smaller crawfish and the range of TCMs for crawfish used internationally. I asked BIM, in framing its recommendations, to ensure that its proposals provided at least the equivalent or a higher level of protection to the reproductive potential of the stock, as provided by the present measures, and that a high level of compliance would be assured within available resources.
I received a draft report from BIM last month and I am expecting the final report in the near future. I intend to publish the report shortly and will make arrangements for a copy to be sent to the Deputy.
I do not accept that Ireland's minimum landing size is in any way anti competitive or discriminatory. While the minimum landing size for crawfish specified in EU Regulations is 95mm, it should be noted that there is a wide range of different minimum landing sizes in force across Europe. Each Member State must take account of the characteristics of its own stock, including varying factors such as age at maturity. In those circumstances harmonised arrangements are not always practical or desirable.