Government hammers Donegal in herring quota allocation

Coveney decision comes as a major blow to fishing sector in Donegal


Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Agriculture Brian Ó Domhnaill has challenged the Government about its highly discriminatory approach to the distribution of herring stocks in the North West and Celtic Sea.


The Donegal Senator raised a special debate on the matter in the Seanad last night (Tuesday, 11 July 2012), expressing extreme frustration at the Government’s behaviour.


“Both the North West and the Celtic Sea Herring Fishery have provided much needed employment for fishermen and fish processing plant workers in Co Donegal over the years.  The plants in Killybegs and Kincasslagh have been dependent on the herring catch, particularly in light of the short working season,” said Senator Ó Domhnaill.


“There are two primary herring stocks in the Irish fleet, the North West Herring Stock (Ireland 91% share) and the Celtic Sea Herring Stock (Ireland 86% share). The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has now made a decision which will effectively wipe out overnight the herring fishing opportunity for County Donegal. This decision follows the preparation of the Herring Fishery Management Plan,” the Donegal Senator explained.


In response to Senator Ó Domhnaill’s questions, Minister Coveney said “I came to a decision which I believe provides for the proper and effective management and conservation and rational exploitation of the herring stock.”


Speaking afterwards, Senator Ó Domhnaill said, “The policy is based on giving access to each of the fisheries to those with recent track records in that particular fishery. The track record involves vessels having landed a minimum of 5 tonnes of herring in 2009 or 2010. The criteria being used to determine quota eligibility, in my view, is highly selective and favours Southern places vessels. For example a large number of vessels from the West and North West coasts participated in the fishery in 2011, but the Minister chose not to include this as part of the criteria. A fisherman from Donegal who fished for herring for 30 of the last 40 years will now no longer qualify for the quota.


“The impact on the wider marine sector in Donegal and the North West will be devastating.  Minister Coveney’s decision will come as a major blow to ancillary industries such as ship repair, maintenance companies as well as food and fuel suppliers.”


“The targeted & calculated selection of qualifying criteria is politically motivated, and once again the North West loses out.  The Minister’s response is unacceptable and I am not prepared to let this issue rest. 


“I have already raised the issue at the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee requesting both the Minister and Senior Officials to come before the Committee. To date both parties have refused, however I have gained the support of fellow committee members to convene a special meeting of the committee on Tuesday 24th July so that Department Officials can come in and provide some explanations on this issue.  I certainly hope that our invitation will be accepted on this occasion,” said Senator Ó Domhnaill


Posted: Jul 11, 2012     |     Categories: Uncategorized