Minister Connick Presented with Latest Scientific Advice on the Fisheries Resource

Minister Connick and Dr. Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute, at the presentation of The Stock Bookoutside Leinster House recently (Photo:Marine Institute)Mr. Seán Connick, T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, was recently presented (Thursday 2nd December) with the most recent version of the Marine Institute’s annual Stock Book, containing vitally important information to serve Ireland during the annual Total Allowable Catch (TAC) negotiations at the various EU Council of Fisheries meetings. The Stock Bookalso acts as a valuable reference throughout the year at other fisheries management meetings with the EU.  

“The seas around Ireland contain some of the most productive and biologically sensitive areas in EU waters,” said Minister Connick. “Most of the fisheries resource within this area comes under the remit of the Common Fisheries Policy and the provision of scientific advice on the fisheries resource base is not only a key input component to this Policy but forms the basis for the management decisions made under the CFP, including the setting of annual Total Allowable Catches and, from them, individual national quotas.”   


The 2010 fishing opportunities (TACs) for the international fleets that operate in these seas were 994,155 tonnes of fish, estimated at a landed value of €1.18 billion, based on average 2009 prices and represent a conservative estimate. Ireland’s share of these fishing opportunities represents 18% by tonnage and 16% by value. These figures exclude the valuable inshore fisheries (e.g. lobster, whelk) which are not currently managed by total allowable catches within the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).  


“The scientific advice for 2011 is a mix of good and bad news,” said Dr. Peter Heffernan of the Marine Institute. “There are increases proposed for Celtic Sea herring and sole, and status quo for hake, Celtic Sea haddock and whiting.  There are severe reductions proposed for Irish Sea and Celtic Sea cod. The Marine Institute will be supporting the Minister Connick and DAFF officials at the Council Negotiations on 13th and 14th December.”    

The Stock Book has been published by the Marine Institute since 1993 and continues to evolve in a changing fisheries advisory environment. It is available for free download from the Marine Institute’s website at


For further information, please contact:

Dr. John Joyce – Communications Manager, Marine Institute.

Phone: 087 2250871                

Notes to Editor      

Scientific Advice and The Stock Book  

The provision of scientific advice on the fisheries resource base is a key input component to the CFP. Scientific advice forms the basis for the management decisions made under the CFP (e.g. annual TAC’s).  In November 2010, Maria Damanaki (European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries) stated that “we need to make sustainability our primary goal; we need to base our management decisions strictly on science.”  The Stock Book places this science at the fingertips of the Minister, DAFF officials, Industry and Stakeholders.     

The scientific advice used in The Stock Book is formulated by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES). The majority of ICES scientific advice is released in May each year. This is to facilitate consultation with industry and managers on available fishing opportunities for the coming year.  

ICES produces the remaining scientific advice in October. The EU’s Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) also reviews the state of fish stocks. The Stock Book draws on both the ICES and STECF material and the resultant scientific advice relates to those stocks exploited by the Irish fleet, which come under the remit of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).  

The Stock Book contains impartial scientific advice developed by the Fisheries Science Services team of the Marine Institute (working with other international scientists at ICES and STECF) from the latest available research, assessments and advice on the fisheries resource. The function of this year’s Stock Book is to inform management decisions on fishing opportunities for 2011.  

Each year, the Commission produce a policy statement on fishing opportunities. The 2010 policy statement (COM(2010)241) outline seven guiding principles and a series of decision rules that will determine fishing opportunities for 2011. The Stock Book presents an interpretation of the decision rule for the setting of the 2011TAC for each stock.  

A major new feature of the ICES scientific advice for 2011 is that it is presented in an MSY (Maximum Sustainable Yield) format. This is one of the key deliverables of the Johannesburg declaration on Sustainable Development.  Thus there are four forms of advice presented for each stock in The Stock Book; (1) MSY advice; (2) Precautionary Approach Advice; (3) Management Plan Advice and (4) EU Policy statement advice.