Minister Coveney Presented with Latest Scientific Advice on the Fisheries Resource

Stock Book 2011 CoverMinister of Agriculture, Food and Marine Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D., , was today (Wednesday 23rd November) presented with the most recent version of the Marine Institute’s annual Stock Book, containing vitally important information to serve Ireland during the forthcoming annual Total Allowable Catch (TAC) negotiations at the various EU Council of Fisheries meetings. The Stock Book also acts as a valuable reference throughout the year at other fisheries management meetings with the EU.

According to The Stock Book, the 2011 fishing opportunities (TACs) for the international fleets that operate in Irish waters (ICES sub areas VI and VII) were 937,924 tonnes of fish, with an estimated landed value of €1.04 billion, based on average 2009 prices and represent a conservative estimate. Ireland’s share of these fishing opportunities represents 21% by tonnage and 17% by value. These figures do not include those valuable inshore fisheries (e.g. lobster, crab and whelk) which are not managed by TACs within the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

“These fish stocks represent a valuable resource for Ireland,” said Minister Coveney, “a resource that must be managed sustainably through collaboration between my Department, the industry which it serves and the scientists who advise us. It was this kind of collaboration which launched the proposed measures to reduce the wasteful practice of ‘discarding’ in Irish waters and which I hope will ensure the sustainability of Irish fish stocks and Irish fishing jobs in the years to come.”


In June 2011, the European Commission reported that fish stocks in European waters were improving. Whereas 32 out of the 34 commercial fish stocks in the Atlantic were overfished in 2004, this proportion fell to 22 out of 35 stocks by 2010 – a drop of 94% to 63% of overfished stocks in six years.Minister and CEO


Nevertheless, many stocks in the west of Scotland, Irish Sea and Celtic Sea remain overfished and stock sizes are small.

“Sustainability for the fishing industry means leaving enough fish in the sea to grow and reproduce at their most productive level,” said Dr. Peter Heffernan of the Marine Institute. “This is the concept of ‘Maximum Sustainable Yield’ or MSY, which is defined by The Stock Book for commercial stocks in Irish waters and used to define the Total Allowable Catch assigned to each country for each stock. Fishing too hard, at levels above the MSY means that fish will be caught too soon, too small and using too much fuel. In short, that stock will cease to be sustainable.”

The Stock Book has been published by the Marine Institute since 1993 and is available from the Marine Institute website at:

 Photos: Jason Clarke Photography


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, DAFM 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 function of this year’s Stock Book is to inform management decisions on fishing opportunities for 2012.