Marine Institute welcomes EU decision on new Irish Conservation Box

The Marine Institute welcomes the decision by EU fisheries ministers to replace the Irish Box, a 50-mile, protected fishing zone around the Irish coast, with a new conservation area.

The new Irish Conservation Box was secured largely on the basis of scientific evidence, provided by the Marine Institute, that the waters around Ireland contain some of the most important spawning and nursery areas for commercial fish stocks in the North East Atlantic.

Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO, Marine Institute welcomed the decision, “The successful outcome of these negotiations demonstrates the socio-economic value of investment in marine research. The new Irish Conservation Box will ensure that sensitive spawning and nursery areas for mackerel, horse mackerel, blue whiting, hake, megrim, herring and haddock will be protected while safeguarding the Irish fishing industry”  

The biological sensitivity of the waters around Ireland has been clearly demonstrated by various international scientific surveys (groundfish and egg and larval). These data have been extensively analysed in recent years in a number of international projects and have produced a clear picture of the importance of the area for fish spawning and nursery areas.  These data formed an integral part of the case made by Ireland on the biological sensitive nature of the waters around Ireland.

The EU have now recognised the importance of the waters around Ireland and have established a new Irish Conservation Box (ICB) which will be subject to new effort regimes and various technical measures (as yet unspecified). The ICB is smaller than the old Irish Box, but it extends further south.  A major feature of the ICB is that it follows the 200m contour on its western side.