Dáil Éireann - Volume 597 - 08 February, 2005

Written Answers - Fishing Fleet Modernisation.

[375]   93. Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources his plans for vessel owners who were encouraged to build larger vessels to target non-quota species in deep water to the west of Ireland to alleviate pressure on whitefish stocks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3685/05]

  Mr. Gallagher: Since 1998, 64 new fishing vessels have received grant aid under fleet renewal programmes. Of the 21 vessels over 24 metres in length, only two were specifically designed with the capacity to target exclusively deep water species. Both vessels, however, retain all the attributes and equipment required to allow them also target traditional, non-deep water stocks. All the vessels introduced were replacing vessels in the fleet and, as such, did not add capacity to the fleet. They were introduced to enhance the operational efficiency, competitiveness and safety of the whitefish fleet in respect of both traditional quota stocks and new species.

Deep sea quotas were introduced for the first time in 2002. Revised quotas for 2005 and 2006, involving cuts of 15%, were agreed at last December’s Council. Total allowable catches, TACs, and quotas were also introduced for a number of additional deep sea stocks at the December Council. In addition, a closed area off the west coast was put in place in respect of the orange roughy fishery. These measures are being introduced with the intention of providing for a sustainable deep sea fishery into the future. In respect of the stocks subject to TACs, most of which are high value, the Irish fleet has quotas of 2,954 tonnes available to it in 2005. On the basis of these allocations and additional opportunities for other non-quota stocks, the deep sea fishery remains important to the Irish fleet.

I am satisfied that the investment in the whitefish fleet has enabled this sector to meet the challenges facing it, that it will ensure that the maximum value is obtained from fully exploited volume restricted fisheries and that it has promoted the development of the important deep sea fisheries and more selective fishing technologies.