Conservation Measures

Pelagic fisheries tend to be low impact and selective.

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Selectivity devices which can be incorporated into the net design have been tested by the RSW vessels in Killybegs and a number of vessels continue to use them.

All of the pelagic fish are targeted outside the 12-mile zone. Due to their negligible impact on the seabed, the RSW vessels are the only vessels allowed to fish in Special Protection Areas (SPAs) along the Irish coasts where coral reefs are found.

The fisheries is managed to ensure that the level of fishing activity is sustainable. The pelagic fish stocks are assessed under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) system of regulation.

To ensure that the fishing pressure is not higher than the stocks can sustain, the conservation measures under the CFP set up rules for total allowable catches, limitation of fishing effort, technical measures (rules in relation to fishing gears and minimum landing sizes), and impose obligations to record and report catches and landings.

Each year the size of fish stocks including the pelagic species are estimated by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). Total Allowable Catches (TACs) are set by the Council of Ministers at the end of every year to limit the maximum amount of fish that can be caught from a specific stock over a given period of time. The TACs are then shared among the member states according to a number of factors including countries' past catch record.

All vessels adhere to the quota which is distributed through the Producer Organisations (POs) according to the historical rights and size of the vessel.  In 2004, the European Commission introduced Regional Advisory Councils. A Pelagic Regional Advisory Council (RAC) was set-up which members of the Irish Pelagic industry attend.

The Irish Pelagic industry adheres to the pelagic quota allocated to Ireland. All Irish fishing vessels are monitored by the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority of Ireland and the Irish Navy to ensure compliance with the quotas by checking their logbooks and their activity by a satellite monitoring system.

Scientific research

Scientific research has been carried out as far back as the end of the nineteenth century by the Royal Dublin Society. In the early seventies, Irish scientists joined working groups and became members of the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES). Through these groups, scientists from across the member states discuss stock identity, spawning behaviour, larvae and juveniles, age and growth, as well as providing management advice. This advice forms the basis of the annual Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quota negotiations that take place each December.

For further information see ICES website and the European Commission Fisheries Section.