Wednesday, 3 November 2021
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
173. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if an estimation is being carried out of the greenhouse gas emissions savings if bottom trawling is banned or limited to certain areas in Ireland's exclusive economic zone; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53470/21]
There is growing global acceptance of the reality of the impacts of climate change on our oceans. This has driven a sharp focus on the need for solutions and actions to address these pressing challenges. The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications has signalled his intention to publish the climate action plan 2021 soon. My Department is participating in several working groups contributing to the drafting of the plan. Climate action is actively being embedded across policies, programmes and work streams within my Department and the agencies under my remit, creating opportunities for innovation and to harness the collective input of policymakers, scientists, technical experts and industry representatives to generate meaningful climate action. As a cross-cutting, wide ranging policy, this Plan will be considered in full by Government.
In the meantime, progress continues to be made on implementation of the existing actions in the Interim Climate Actions 2021 published earlier this year. These include work on a baseline study of ocean environmental variables from current programmes; the development of a natural capital accounting system for the seafood sector and resource efficiency tools for seafood processors. Progress reports are regularly published online at: gov.ie - Climate Action: Important Publications (www.gov.ie)
Ireland’s goals for sustainable fisheries are supported through the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The CFP provides the framework for the long term conservation and sustainability of fish stocks around our shores and is designed to ensure the long term sustainability of fishing in the waters around Ireland and throughout EU waters. The CFP specifically provides that fishing and aquaculture activities are environmentally sustainable in the long-term and are managed in a way that is consistent with the objectives of achieving economic, social and employment benefits, and of contributing to the availability of food supplies.
Technical measures are used to support sustainable fishing. Technical measures are rules on how, where and when fishers may fish and also include requirements regarding fishing gear, catch composition and ways to deal with accidental catches. A revised and updated EU Regulation on conservation though technical measures was adopted by Council and Parliament on 20 June 2019 (EU Regulation 2019/1241). This Regulation sets the baseline standards for each sea basin.
EU Member States with a fisheries interest in a given sea basin may agree on regional technical measures, adapted to the specific regional circumstances. Such measures can then be adopted as EU secondary legislation, if confirmed by scientists to be consistent with the objectives of the common fisheries policy. Ireland works with Member States in the North West Waters region and are advised by stakeholders through the North West Waters Advisory Council and Pelagic Advisory Council to agree appropriate technical measures for the fisheries in which we participate.
Under the CFP, EU fishing fleets are given equal access to EU waters and fishing grounds subject to allocated fish quotas and compliance with the rules of the CFP, including those regarding fishing gear.
Fishery management measures for offshore Special Areas of Conservation off Ireland’s west coast – the Belgica Mound Province, Hovland Mound Province, North-west Porcupine Bank and South-west Porcupine Bank – are set out in the Technical Measures Regulation (EU Regulation 2019/1241). These sites are Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) designated by the National Parks and Wildlife Service under the Habitats Directive for the protection of reefs. In order to protect these habitats, the use of bottom contacting gear in these areas is prohibited under the Technical Measures Regulation. This prohibition applies to all vessels, both Irish and non-Irish, operating in these areas.