The fisheries resource is the bedrock of the Irish seafood industry. The waters around Ireland contain some of the most productive fishing grounds and biologically sensitive areas in the EU. In 2017, the overall 2017 fishing opportunities (i.e. Total Allowable Catches (TACs) species) for stocks to which the Irish fleet has access to, were 1.3 million tonnes of fish, with an estimated landed value of €1.44 billion. Ireland’s total share of these TAC’s in 2017 amounted to 234,493 tonnes with a value of € 226 million. The main fish species this included were mackerel, horse mackerel, boarfish, blue whiting, herring, cod, whiting, haddock, saithe, pollack, hake, megrim, anglerfish, plaice, sole and Nephrops.
Fish stocks (excluding the Inshore stocks) are managed by the EU under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The main instrument of the CFP are TACs supplemented by various technical measures (e.g. effort control; mesh size). The provision of timely and accurate fisheries advice on the resource base underpins the management framework of the CFP. Data collection is essential for the implementation of the CFP, Ireland’s Data Collection Programme is supported by the EMFF. Inshore fish stocks (e.g. whelk, cockle) are managed nationally and the Marine Institute works closely with Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) through the inshore management. Ireland's Marine Atlas includes details of fishing activity in the inshore waters (up to 10 miles from the Irish coast).
Key Fisheries Related Online Resources and Publications
- Species Dashboard - People can learn about fish species in Irish waters and explore their data with the Species Dashboard - this is a web application that makes biological fisheries data more available to all interested parties. In particular, it allows people to explore the length, weight, and age data of commercial species that are caught around Ireland and allows the effects of factors such as years, sex, area, and gear on the fish to be investigated.
- The Stock Book 2017: Our Fisheries Ecosystems Advisory Services (FEAS) team produces The Stock Book annually, which provides the most up to date stock status and scientific advice on over 60 fish stocks exploited by the Irish fleet. It contains impartial scientific advice developed by the team (working with other international scientists) from the latest available research, assessments and advice on the fisheries resource and the wider marine ecosystem. An interactive Digital Stock Book is now also available, it includes a forecasting tool that allows users to see the projected impact of different fishing scenarios.
- The Shellfish Stocks and Fisheries Review: Focusing specifically on the inshore sector, it gives an overview of shell-fisheries legislation, management and economic value in Ireland and assessment of selected stocks.
- Atlas of Commercial Fisheries Around Ireland, 2nd edition: This Atlas gives new insights into the fishing activities and fisheries resources around Ireland.
- Atlas of Commercial Fisheries for Shellfish around Ireland: This atlas describes the spatial distribution of activity by fishing vessels under 12m in length in the territorial and coastal waters of Ireland.
- Atlas of Irish Fish Trawl Surveys - Supporting Fish Stock Assessment and New Ecosystem Advice: This Atlas presents key results from the Irish groundfish survey programme which is carried out annually in the waters around Ireland, and the Deepwater programme conducted between 2006 and 2009.
- Atlas of Demersal Discarding – Scientific Observations and Potential Solutions: This Atlas provides information on discarding patterns by species and area by the various Irish demersal fleets. A number of potential technical measures to reduce discards are shown as well as two case studies showing the potential impact technical measures have on landings and discards.
- North Western Waters Atlas 3rd Edition: This Atlas includes general summary information on the physical and chemical features, habitat types, biological features, birds, mammals, fishing activity and other human activities of the NWW region.
Ireland’s has approximately 220 million acres of marine territory. These waters have a plethora of marine biodiversity. To work towards conserving this biodiversity, the Marine Biodiversity Scheme was established under Ireland's Operational Programme (OP), co-funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and by the Irish Government. It has three specific objectives, reduction of the impact of fisheries and aquaculture on the marine environment, including the avoidance and reduction, as far as possible, of unwanted catch; protection and restoration of aquatic biodiversity and ecosystems; development and implementation of the Integrated Maritime Policy. Further information on projects funded under this scheme can be found on the Marine Institute's dedicated 'EMFF 2014 - 2020' website.